Peter and John have been surrounded by curious Jews who want to see the familiar beggar who has just been healed of his life-long infirmity. Peter takes advantage of his ready-made pulpit.
Chapter three verses twelve through eighteen: In verse 12 we find Peter beginning his discourse by reminding the Jews of who they are: “You men of Israel”–descendants of the prophet Jacob. As has been noted previously, all Jews–people from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi–are Israelites. “Jew” is the nickname the King James translators gave to the people of the district of Judea who called themselves “Judahites.” Conversely, the other tribes of the House of Israel, those who lived in the district called “Samaria,” called themselves “Samaritans.”
Peter wanted to make certain that the people understood that he and John had not healed the crippled man, but rather that God had healed him. He noted that it was his and John’s faith in the Lord’s name and the power contained within that name that had prompted Him to perform the miracle. Recall that Jesus had said: “All things are possible to him that believes”–has faith (Mark 9:23). Faith is defined as believing what God has written in His Holy Bible (Rom. 10:17).
In verses 13-15 Peter told the men that God had raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, the same Jesus Whom they had caused to be crucified. By insisting that Jesus be crucified, they denied that He was their Messiah. In verse 14 Peter notes that to deny Jesus–the Word (Jn. 1:1-4,14/Rev. 19:13) by rejecting any one of His Words is to automatically accept another messiah. As He told the church at Laodicea to reject one of His Words is to reject the Godhead. He tells us that only by living this life “… by EVERY WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God” will one be allowed to live with Him eternally (Mat. 4:4). Conversely, rejection of ONE WORD found in the Holy Scriptures automatically disqualifies the rebel for future entrance into God’s kingdom. He makes this clear in the Book of James. Jesus tells us that not one Word, not so much as a jot or tittle (punctuation mark) can be added to or taken away from the Word of God (Mat. 5:18). This the Institutional Church does repeatedly. For example, she refuses to revere God’s Sabbath but embraces Satan’s Sabbath, which disqualifies her for eternal life. Thus says the Lord.
In verses 17 and 18 Peter tells the crowd gathered around him that they did what they did in ignorance because they were ignorant of what God had said about His Messiah in both the Tora and the writings of the prophets. Their ignorance of His Son’s sufferings was the reason for God’s condemnation of them. God had arranged for His Old Testament writers to tell Israel about Christ’s sufferings beginning in Genesis 3:15, then in other places throughout the Old Testament in passages such as Psalms 22, Isaiah 52:14;53:1-12 and Daniel 9:25,26. The Jews that had arranged for Jesus to die had no excuse for their lack of knowledge concerning Him, even though there was no such thing as personal Bibles in those day. To learn what God had written to them Israelites had to go to the Temple or to local synagogues where they could hear the Scriptures read by the priests. One can only imagine the Lord’s attitude toward those today who own Bibles yet know so little about It, and doubt most of what they know. He warns those who profess Him while rebelling against His Word: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). An age-old saying applies to this situation: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Though the Lord has provided His Word to those who want it, He can’t force them to believe it. Point to ponder: Satan both knows and believes God’s Word. Church people neither know nor believe God’s Word. L.J.