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"When Peter saw he had a congregation, he addressed the people:
"'Oh, Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise and why stare at us as if our power or piety made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, had glorified His Son Jesus. The very one that Pilate called innocent, you repudiated. You repudiated the Holy One, the Just One, and asked for a murderer in His place. You no sooner killed the Author of Life than God raised Him from the dead -- and we're the witnesses. Faith in Jesus' name put this man whose condition you know so well, on his feet -- yes, faith and nothing but faith put this man healed and whole right before your eyes.'" Acts 3:12-16 (The Message).
What an opportunity! Peter made good mileage out of the situation. It was very current. Some of his hearers were still smarting from his last sermon. They had been part of the mob that had bayed for Jesus' blood and, when the Holy Spirit came with indisputable evidence, they were forced to acknowledge their guilt and seek the forgiveness His death offered.
Now it had happened again -- another phenomenal miracle which pointed to a Power outside their everyday experience. Peter quickly jumped in with another explanation and another accusation which once again hit home. They had to face the cold, stark fact that they had mindlessly demanded the release of a murderer and condemned an innocent man to a horrible death, but not only an innocent man, the very Son of God whom they refused to acknowledge.
No one could deny the miracle. This man was so familiar to them that no one would even question that he was once a crippled beggar and now he walked and was whole again. But how did it happen? Peter explains. "This Jesus you killed is alive again. God raised Him from the dead as a witness to the identity you refused to acknowledge - the Son of God. Through the power of His name this man was made whole and can walk again. This is the same God you claim to worship - the God of our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
The evidence was irrefutable. They had only one option - to turn to the one they had spurned and acknowledge that He is Lord. The kingdom He represented is one of mercy and compassion. The Ruler of this kingdom has the power to restore what the devil had lured man into destroying. In spite of what they had done, He offered forgiveness, cleansing, healing and a new life of faith in Him.
The crippled man, now healed and whole, was a startling declaration that God's desire is not to condemn and destroy but to restore and heal as a witness to His love ad grace. What other God would come Himself to a broken world, pay the debt for man's sin and offer forgiveness and a new start to anyone who is willing to take up His offer and stake themselves on the reliability of His character and His promise?
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