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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Tue, Jun 28, 2011

31 - Messianic Prophecies [b]

Acts 3:12-19 by Robert Dean
Duration:56 mins 8 secs

Messianic Prophecies. Acts 3:12-19

 

What is interesting about this whole message which starts in verse 12 and goes down to verse 26 is that it is so loaded with references, vocabulary, allusions to the Old Testament that if we really study this we realize you cannot understand the New Testament if we don't have a grasp of the Old Testament. Almost every phrase Peter uses is loaded with baggage from the Old Testament, and it is so sad that most Christians today just don't spend time in the Old Testament.

There is a significance to this healing in chapter three. Healing was a sign, a miraculous sign that was predicted numerous times in the Old Testament to be an indication of the presence of the Messiah and the presence of the future kingdom that God promised. So the healing miracles of Jesus were to give credibility to His claims to be the Messiah, to show that the Messiah was there and that the healing that was prophesied about the kingdom was present in the person of Jesus Christ. Now that He has ascended to the right hand of the Father the message that Peter and John are still proclaiming relates to the kingdom and that even though He has been crucified they are offering the kingdom to Israel. So this healing miracle is another one of this whole series of healing miracles to proclaim the opportunity, for the kingdom to come.

Acts 3:12 NASB "But when Peter saw {this,} he replied to the people, 'Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?'" In other words, why are you so surprised about all this? He is addressing the men, the males, and there is a reason for that in terms of the practice of the Jews in the temple. This is the ninth hour, the hour of prayer, and the men would just have gathered in the temple and would have just gone through their prayer book. This particular prayer reads: "Praise be you Adonai, our God and God of our Fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." How does Peter begin this message? [13] "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…" This is what they had just been praying.  He is telling them that the prayer that they had just prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of our Fathers and this is His plan. Then he said, [He] "has glorified His servant Jesus." When we look at Peter's last statement in this sermon in verse 26 he says "For you first, God raised up His Servant." So he brackets his message with the reference to the Servant Jesus at the beginning and the Servant Jesus at the end. "… and sent Him to bless you by turning every one {of you} from your wicked ways."

We have noted Isaiah 53:11 NASB "As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see {it and} be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities." In Acts 3:14 NASB "Acts 3:14 "But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One…" Isaiah says, "By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many…" How does He do that? "…. As He will bear their iniquities." The Hebrew word there for "justify" is the tsadaq, to make righteous. Here it is in the hiphil stem, the causative stem—cause to be righteous, just. He will cause many to become righteous—by bearing their iniquities. Peter tells us that Christ carried our sins in His own body on the cross. So Isaiah 53 is focused on the role of the Servant in providing justification for sin as a substitute for sin.

Acts 3:13, "you delivered and disowned"; [14] "you disowned the Holy and Righteous One"; [15] "[you] put to death the Prince of life." There are those in the history of Christianity who have taken passages like this and used them very wrongly to blame the Jews for the crucifixion, calling them "Christ killers." That is an argument that is at the root of what is known as Christian anti-Semitism. But the Bible doesn't put all the blame on the Jews. In fact, in Acts 4:27 (part of their prayer) NASB "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate [the governing authority of the Jews and the governing authority of Rome], along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel." That includes everybody. It is very clear that they understood that the responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus belonged to the entire human race.

Peter says that they delivered up and denied/disowned Jesus. They turned their backs on Jesus is the idea that is presented here. The word "delivered" is the Greek paradidomi [paradidwmi] and it can also mean to betray.

The first thing that happened when Jesus was arrested was that Pilate interviewed Him. Pilate is not approaching this, though, from a purely neutral vantage point. What happened to Pilate before he began to interview Jesus? The Scripture tells us that his wife had a bad dream and warmed him that if he was responsible for the death of this man, things would be pretty bad. He has been warned by his wife and has taken a little time to interrogate Jesus and to find out what He is talking about, what He was claiming, and he decided he was going to give the people an option. He really thinks this is just the Jewish leaders and that the people will choose Jesus, because Jesus is not a bad person; not like Barabbas. Barabbas was a wanted criminal, a murderer, and was public enemy number one.

Matthew 27:15 NASB "Now at {the} feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people {any} one prisoner whom they wanted. [16] At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas." In other passages he was identified as a criminal and a murderer. [17] "So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?' [18] For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over." Pilate is thinking this might be an out for him. He is thinking there is going to be a way out for him but he has misread the situation, misread the people and the way they have been stirred up by their religious leaders. [19] "While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him {a message,} saying, 'Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.'" So Pilate is warned that this is a dangerous situation. [20] "But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. [21] "But the governor said to them, 'Which of the two do you want me to release for you?' And they said, 'Barabbas.'" Pilate just can't believe this and he then gives them a second chance. [22] "Pilate said to them, 'Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' They all said, 'Crucify Him!'" Pilate recognizes that he can't sin this argument and so he went back in and washed his hands as a symbol that he is innocent of the blood of this just person. He claims that this absolves him of any guilt.

Matthew 27:25 NASB "And all the people said, 'His blood shall be on us and on our children!'" This is another verse that is famously used to justify anti-Semitism. As we see from the passage in Acts chapter four that might have been what they said in the emotion of the moment but it is not a justification for hostility to Jews or Israel since. So Barabbas is released.

That is what Peter is referring to. Remember, the group that is before him is the same group that was in that crowd about 50 or 60 days before. When he says, "You did this," that is literal. He is not talking to their children, grandchildren or subsequent generations; he is talking to the people who were actually in that crowd. He says, "whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him." So Peter gives us insight here not found in the Gospels, that Pilate was determined and trying to let Jesus go. He had made a decision to release Jesus but he had to give it a legal cover—which didn't work.

The next thing Peter says to them is Acts 3:14 NASB "But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One [the just/dikaioj]…" This is an interesting and powerful statement. There are people who say that Jesus never claimed to be God. We see here a statement by Peter that is quite profound. Here is an orthodox Jew, a devout observant Jew who is firmly against any kind of idolatry, because he would have been taught by the Pharisees at that time that it was idolatry that led to the destruction of the first temple, that led to God removing the people from the land, and that the sin of sins that the Jewish people committed to anger God and bring His wrath against them was idolatry. So above and beyond anything that was going on above and beyond the Pharisaic interpretation of the Old Testament was that however we mess up the one thing we can't do is to worship another god. They were already beginning to harden and to petrify into a rigid unitarian monotheism. This is why they became so upset when Jesus claimed to be God. They had rejected any indication from the Old Testament that there was a plurality in the Godhead. Peter would never have wanted to worship another god other than God. Here he is talking about Jesus and he uses two names for God from the Old Testament and ties them to Jesus. That tells us something. It says something has changed in the thinking of this rigidly observant Jew named Peter, and that he clearly understands now that Jesus is fully God. He makes this very clear here in front of this Jewish audience.

What is surprising is that when the Sanhedrin finally arrests him and take him and John for questioning in chapter four they are not nearly as hostile to their claims that Jesus is God as they were to Jesus. At this stage, with all the numbers of people who are converting and believing in Jesus, it may be there was a sense of hesitancy among the Sanhedrin.

First of all, Peter calls Jesus the Holy One of Israel. This phrase is used numerous times in Isaiah to refer to Yahweh—thirty times qadosh Yisrael.  Cf. Isaiah 49:7 NASB "Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], the Redeemer of Israel {and} its Holy One, To the despised One, To the One abhorred by the nation, To the Servant of rulers…" Isaiah 45:21 NASB "Declare and set forth {your case;} Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD [Yahweh]? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous [just] God and a Savior; There is none except Me."

Acts 3:14 NASB "But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, [15] but put to death the Prince of life, {the one} whom God raised from the dead, {a fact} to which we are witnesses." This is an interesting term for a prince. It is the Greek word archegos [a)rxhgoj], a word that is related to the shorter noun arche [a)rxh], meaning beginning. We have seen arche referring to Jesus, the head of the church, the beginning. It means there in that context the one who began something, the one who initiated a cause, the beginning of the church. So this is a lengthening of that term. archegos indicates someone who is the prince, a leader, so He is identified as the Prince of life. Colossians 1:18 says that He is the beginning or the originator and the firstborn from the dead. That phrase "firstborn from the dead" is a reference to resurrection, that Jesus is the first to conquer death and receive a resurrection body. In that sense He conquered death so that we could all conquer death. His victory over death becomes our victory over death and that means He becomes the pioneer or the prince of life. He is the one who begins this new life, the first one to have that resurrection life. So when Peter refers to Him here as the Prince of life he is making a similar claim to what Paul does in Colossians 1:18, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. He is the one who is the cause of this new life.

Then we have a strict appeal to the fact that this isn't just something that they made up. Everybody there knew the story. The Roman guards who were guarding Jesus' tomb are still around. The Marys who showed up on that resurrection Sunday morning were all around. They could go and ask them, this was something that could be demonstrated and proven empirically at that time. There was evidence for everyone listening to Peter to know that what he was saying was the absolute truth.

Acts 3:16 NASB "And on the basis of faith in His name, {it is} the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which {comes} through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all." We think of a name as merely a tag or a label. In Jewish thought a name said something about the essence or the character of that which it named, and the name of a person said something about the name of a person.

Who is exercising faith that made the man strong in this verse? Is it the lame man? No. The lame man didn't expect anything. What was said in verse 6? "But Peter said, 'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!'" Peter reaches down and grabs him by the hand and pulls him up. He doesn't do anything; he doesn't respond to anything Peter said. He doesn't rise up and walk of his own volition, he did not respond in faith on the basis of what Peter said. He is not expressing any faith at that point and he is up and walking around. Then he believed, but not before he was healed. His faith is afterward, so whose faith is it that gets this man up off his feet? It is Peter and John's. It is their faith, their trusting in the promise and the instructions that Jesus gave them in terms of their apostolic role and function to heal this individual. "…whom you see and know"—you know this, you've known this guy for forty years and he has never walked a day in his life, he was born this way; this is a genuine miracle that has occurred because you all know that he has never ever walked. The faith that comes through Him [through Christ, the faith that Peter and John had in Christ], has given this lame man this perfect soundness "in the presence of you all." He recognizes that it is their faith but it is Jesus who is the instrumental power that has enabled this man to walk.

Acts 3:17 NASB "And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also." He has just absolved them from all responsibility. This is interesting because as he is appealing to them within the temple, within the ritual of the day of atonement (which covers all unintentioned sins, not intentional sins), and so what Peter is saying here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is that God understands that they really didn't understand what they were doing. They did it in ignorance. That means that this sacrifice can cover the sins of those who crucified the Messiah. If we read the Gospel accounts we may not recognize that they did this in ignorance. But think about 2 Corinthians 4:4 where Paul tells us that Satan as the god of this age is blinding the minds of the unsaved. There is a cloud over their thinking, they are self-deceived and ignorant of the truth, and so there is a sense in which they are not responsible because they really didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Acts 3:18 NASB "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He [God the Father] has thus fulfilled." Peter takes them again back to the Old Testament and says again and again that the Scriptures foretold that the Messiah would suffer. What happened under the pressure of Rome was that the leaders were ignoring half of prophecy. There were over 300 prophesies that were fulfilled by Jesus at the first coming and many of those have to do with His suffering.

Acts 3:19 NASB "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."