The healing of the crippled man (Acts 3:1 – 10) was a miraculous thing to behold. In the blink of an eye, forty – plus years of suffering, for the crippled man, were over as God fixed the seemingly unfixable.
Word of this miraculous event rippled throughout the temple and the streets of Jerusalem, and a massive crowd gathered to get in on the action. Something exciting was going on in the streets of Jerusalem and everybody wanted to see what was happening.
Once the crowd gathered, Peter stood up and began preaching a sermon straight from the pages of the Old Testament. In summary, his message was: “We did not do this, Jesus did this just as the prophets foretold, therefore everyone should listen, repent, and be blessed.” Look at the text with me…
11While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And his name – by faith in his name – has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
#1: WE DID NOT DO THIS – JESUS DID (VV. 11 – 16)
In verse 11 Luke tells us that the previously crippled man who could now miraculously walk was clinging tightly to Peter and John and all the people were absolutely shocked to hear and to see what was taking place. So, everybody came running into the temple to get in on the action.
In verses 12 – 13 Luke tells us that rather than taking the credit for himself, Peter began to preach a sermon that glorified and exalted the name of Jesus because Peter knew that he was only a mere man who did not possess the power to do this miraculous thing. His message simply states that Jesus did this! Jesus is the one who made the crippled man walk and leap and run as he never had before. Jesus is the one whom the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had raised up as the Servant Messiah just as Isaiah had foretold (Isa. 42:1 – 4; 49:1 – 6; 50:4 – 9; 52:13 – 53:12). This Jesus is the one who did this miraculous thing.
And, according to verses 13 – 15, this Jesus is also the one that many in Peter’s audience had “delivered over and denied” in the events of the crucifixion. Instead of receiving Jesus as the one who holds the power over Satan, Sin, and Death – the One who holds the power of eternal life in his now nail scarred hands – instead of receiving this Jesus, Peter’s audience had denied him, had asked for a murderer to be released instead, and then literally murdered “the Author of life”.
But this Jesus who did this miraculous thing, who made the crippled man walk, leap, and run, this Jesus did not stay in the grave that was made by the human hands that had murdered him. In verses 15 – 16 Peter says that even though his audience had murdered “the Author of Life” God in his sovereign power actually raised Jesus from the dead. The man they murdered – who left the tomb empty – this man is the one who did this; it is by and through faith in the name of the risen Jesus that the crippled man is now walking, and running, and leaping, in perfect health in the midst of the crowd. Jesus is the one who did this!
So, the first thing Peter says is that Jesus is the one who did this. I bet you could have heard a pin drop after Peter’s first point – especially because he spoke so boldly and specifically about the sins of the people in his audience. He did not gloss anything over, he did not excuse their sin, and he did not pull his punches to save the feelings of his listeners. After throwing the upper cut of his first point, he now throws the right hook of his second point when he says that the prophets all throughout history had foretold this; the prophets all throughout Israel’s history had foretold the coming of Jesus. And most of Israel had totally missed it!
#2: THE PROPHETS FORETOLD THIS (VV. 17 – 21)
Most of Israel had totally missed who Jesus was and what he came to do. This is why Peter says in verse 17 “Brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers”. All of Israel’s history had pointed to the apex of redemption in the person and work of Jesus, crucified, risen, and returning, and most of Israel had completely missed it in their ignorance. All they needed to do is look at the message of the prophets of the Old Testament. This is exactly what Peter does; he looks at the message of the prophets of old.
In verses 18 – 21 he reminds his audience that Jesus suffered at the cross in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Therefore, they should repent so that their sins could be erased, so they could experience the refreshment and restoration of the new life that only Jesus can give. The one whom they murdered is the one who can take away their sin and restore their lives.
Peter’s listeners need to understand that Jesus is not just the hope of forgiveness for today; Jesus is their only hope for eternal restoration just as the prophets had proclaimed throughout the centuries. All of Israel’s history from the Garden to the Patriarchs, to the Kings, to their years in captivity – all of history pointed to Jesus as their eternal Messiah who came to set the captives free, to give sight to the blind, and to make the lame walk. What do you do with this?
#3: LISTEN, REPENT, AND BE BLESSED (VV. 22 – 26)
Jesus is the one who healed the crippled man. Jesus is the one whom we reject and deny in our sin. But the prophets foretold that Jesus is the one who takes away the sins of the world and gives the gift of everlasting life. Jesus is the one who gives his life as a ransom for his enemies so that we can become family. Peter knows this. This is why Peter tells his audience to listen, repent and be blessed. He roots his final words in some of the most famous and respected prophets from the Old Testament – Moses, Samuel, and Abraham.
In verses 22 – 23 he reminds his listeners that Moses spoke about Jesus long ago and that Moses instructed them to listen to everything Jesus says, and he also warns them that if they fail to listen to Jesus then they will experience eternal destruction. Failure to listen to Jesus has eternal consequences but listening to him leads to repentance and eternal blessing.
This is why Peter concludes in verses 22 – 26 by saying that even Samuel and every other prophet, proclaimed this day and he reminds them that they are not only sons of those prophets but they are also sons of Abraham and therefore they are meant to be recipients of the covenant blessings that God made with Abraham – they are meant to receive the blessing of the promised Messiah as they repent from their sins and trust in the crucified, risen, and returning Christ.
You see! Everything that is happening here is all about Jesus; it has always been about Jesus! This is the Jesus whom we need to listen to. This is the Jesus who moves us to repentance. This is the Jesus who will bless us beyond our wildest dreams!
In conclusion, I have to say that if I was in the audience that day, I think my heart would have been cut to the core. I imagine hearing about the forty – plus year old crippled man being healed and then running over to meet the men who did this miraculous thing, only to hear them say that they did not do anything, but Jesus, the one whom I had rejected, denied, and murdered, who rose from the dead a few days later, was the fulfillment of the prophetic promises that my mom and dad had read to me for years and that I needed to repent and trust him for salvation… well, that would have been a heavy moment!
How refreshing and inviting it would be to hear that even though I was responsible for the murder of Jesus, all I have to do is listen to him, repent, and believe in him, and then be eternally blessed by him. Jesus did this and he continues to do this today.
Every time an unbeliever comes to faith in Christ, it is because Jesus did this. Every time a believer reads the Bible and sees Jesus in the story, it is because Jesus did this. Every time a person repents (for the first or the millionth time) it is because Jesus did this. Every time a marriage is restored, an addiction is overcome, a hurt is healed, or a hunger for God’s Word is renewed, it is because Jesus did this by the power of his Spirit! We really should listen, repent, and be blessed! Amen!
1 Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).