April 08, 2018

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit



Gospel Lesson; John 20:19-31        

Epistle Lesson; 1 John 5:1-6

Sermon Text; Acts 3:12-20


The Word of God we will focus on is taken from Acts, chapter three, looking at verses 12 through 20.  This is in Jesus, our Savior's name.


When Peter saw this, he addressed the people:  “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this?  Why are you staring at us, as if by our own power or godliness we have made this man walk?  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His servant Jesus, whom you handed over and disowned in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release Him.  You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you.  You killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead.  We are witnesses of this.  And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus that has strengthened this man, whom you see and know.  This faith that comes through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

“Now brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just like your leaders.  But in this way God fulfilled what He had foretold through the mouth of all of the prophets:  that His Christ would suffer.  Therefore repent and return to have your sins wiped out, so that refreshing times may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you.”


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



The portion of scripture I usually associate with the Sunday after Easter is our Gospel Lesson for today.  It is so fitting, in which Jesus appears to His disciples, having risen from the dead, on Easter, and that Thomas was not with them.

One week later, Jesus appeared to His disciples.  And here we are, gathering one week after Easter.  Jesus appeared to His disciples, and this time Thomas is with them.  Thomas believes, because he sees.  What does he believe?  He believes Jesus had risen from the dead.

Well, that is not the only place in scripture that talks about Jesus' resurrection.  The portion of scripture from Acts, chapter three, that we are focusing on for today, also talks about that.  God raised Jesus from the dead.

That is what Peter is going to be doing today.  He is going to be talking about how God raised Jesus from the dead. 

He begins our text by saying, “When Peter saw this...”

So, what is the “this” that is being referred to?  It happened right before our text.  I am going to tell you what happened, right before the text.  Peter and John were in Jerusalem.  They were going into the temple.  It was three o'clock in the afternoon.  It was the time of afternoon prayer.  It was the time of the evening sacrifice.   They were going in to the temple through the gate called, 'Beautiful'.  There was a crippled man who was right inside the gate.  He was begging for money, because he had no way to make a living, to earn a living, so he was begging for money.

The Bible tells us he had been crippled from birth, so he had been doing this for a lot of his life.  The people knew this beggar, this cripple. 

Peter and John are going in through the gate called 'Beautiful'.  He is asking for money, and Peter and John stop right in front of him.  They say to the crippled man, “Look at us”. 

The beggar, who had probably been looking at their feet, because he was ashamed for asking for money, looked up at Peter and John.  Peter looked him right in the eye, and said,

“Silver and gold we do not have.  But what we do have, we give to you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”


On our front bulletin cover there was a picture of that event.


They are reaching down to help this crippled man up onto his feet.  The Bible tells us his legs were strengthened, his ankles were strong, and he began to walk, and to jump, and to praise God!  He had never walked in his life, and he now was not only walking, but he was also jumping! 

Peter and John, then continue in to the temple.  (Scripture tells us the crippled man, who was not crippled anymore, was holding on to them.)  They go into a place called 'Solomon's Colonnade'.  It is a big, wide open area, with the roof over the top.  People are starting to rush toward them.  For years they had seen this man crippled, asking for money.  But now, he was walking, and jumping, and praising God, so they wanted to come, and see with their own eyes what had happened. 

Here is what Peter does.  An action leads to an opportunity. 

-The action is the crippled had been healed. 

-Now, it is going to lead to an opportunity.  The opportunity is sharing with everybody that God had raised Jesus from the dead.  Peter is about to give just a little, mini sermon to the people who were gathering, who were amazed at what they had seen.  So, he starts by saying this.  He calls them, “Men of Israel”, addressing them, because of the group that they are.  He doesn't take credit, or glory for healing the man, but he gives all glory to God.  It was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob who did this. 

-The God of Abraham.  God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans.  He said, “I am going to give this land to your descendents”.  Abraham believed God.  It was credited to him as righteousness.

-The God of Isaac.  During the Lenten Season, we talked about how Isaac was to be the sacrifice.  He was obedient to his father. 

-This is also the God of Jacob.  His twelve boys became the twelve tribes of Israel. 

It is this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who raised this cripple so that he can now walk!  All glory be to Him.

But now, Peter wants to tell us, and tell the crowd of something greater He (God) did than healing a crippled man.  So, Peter begins with his little sermonette. 

Before I share with you the words he started with, I want to go back to an Old Testament example of an action that led to an opportunity.  It is a bad action, but the opportunity was the same.  I want to go back to the time of King David.  King David did something he should not have done.  He committed adultery with Bathsheba.  He committed murder against her husband.  He thought he had gotten away with it, but that is when God sent the prophet Nathan to David.  The prophet Nathan shared with David a story.  He shared with him the story of a rich man who had a whole bunch of sheep, and a poor man who had one, little lamb.  The rich man had some guests.  And, instead of taking one of his many sheep to offer as food for his guests, he stole that little lamb from that poor man.  He slaughtered it, and offered it as food to his guests. 

When David heard that from the prophet Nathan, he was so enraged.  He was so angry.  He was so mad that he said, “That rich man deserves to be put to death, because of what he did.” 

That action led to an opportunity.  The opportunity was this.  When the prophet Nathan pointed at the king (imagine saying these words to the king), but he pointed to the king, and said, “David, that is you.  David, look at what you did.  You are the man.”

That is exactly what Peter does in our text for today.  He uses the action of the man being healed from being crippled to an opportunity to share God's Word with the people.  Notice how he starts.  It doesn't start very pleasant.  He points the finger, and uses the plural 'you', not once, not twice, but three times.  Here is what he says. 

You handed Jesus over to Pilate.

Pilate wanted to set Jesus free. 

You disowned the Holy and righteousness one.

Do you want Jesus, or Barabas?  Barabas was set free.

You killed the author of life.

Those are pretty pointed words, right?  Not only to hear the word once, twice, but three times, “You.”  Well, you know what?  I need to sit down with you guys today.  We are all in this together.  When God's Word speaks to us, it speaks to every one of us.  Look at what you have done.  You handed over Jesus.  You disowned Him.  You killed the Author of Life. 

We did that, because of our sin.  We did that, when we act like bullies.  We did that, when we don't stand up for Jesus' name.  Jesus says,

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words,

I am going to be ashamed of you

on that day in which I return.” 

Peter gives them the benefit of the doubt.  He says,

“...you acted in ignorance, just like your leaders.”  

He is giving them the benefit of the doubt.  You may have acted in ignorance, but I want to tell you that The Old Testament prophesied that the Christ would suffer.  We just got done with the Lenten Season, and we just got done with Good Friday in which we were reminded of Isaiah 52, and 53.  We were reminded of Psalm 22 in which it talks about the suffering that Jesus, our Savior, would endure for us.

And now, with this opportunity, Peter comes to what could be considered one of the most powerful sentences in all of scripture (certainly there are many of them, but here is a great one).  He says these three things in one sentence. 

“Therefore repent and return to have your sins wiped out,

so that refreshing times may come

from the presence of the Lord...”

Remember where Peter and John were, right at this moment.  They are in the temple.  It is 3:00 in the afternoon.  It is the time of the evening sacrifice. 

What is it that God wants from us?  He tells us He doesn't want our sacrifices, but He wants a changed heart.  So, Peter says,

“...repent and return...” 

In The Old Testament, when the prophet Nathan shared that opportunity with King David, what happened?  King David repented of his sin.  He had a change of heart. 

With the crowd Peter is speaking to, just two months after Easter, what was the result?  (I hope I am not stealing thunder from you, Pastor Bartels, because next week you are preaching on the next chapter.) Scripture tells us some of the people were disturbed.  Some of the people repented.  Many people came to faith.  There was a change of heart. 

What is the result, when the opportunity of hearing The Law hits us, and pricks us in the heart?  God wants us to repent, and have a change of heart, and to turn.

When you are driving a car, and see the sign, “Dead End”, what is the only choice that you have to do?  The only choice you have is to turn around.  Well, we are on a 'dead end road', because of our sin.  We can't turn around on our own.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  As we hear God's Word, The Law, the Holy Spirit turns us around, as we repent so that we return to God.

What is the benefit of repentance?  Peter tells us, “So that our sins may be wiped out”.  The Greek word here simply means to have your sins wiped out, blotted out, washed away, to have your sins, your debt, paid in full. 

I think I have told you before.  I love going to my mechanic.  Sometimes, I will just stop in to visit with him, because I know the day is going to come, when he needs to do work for me.  Recently, I brought one of our vehicles in to have an oil change.  The oil was changed, he gave me the bill, and money was exchanged.  I love what he writes at the bottom, every time.  “Paid in full.”  It puts a smile on my face, every time he does that.  That is what the Greek word here is.  Our debt, our sin, is paid in full.  Our sins are washed away.  Our sins are blotted out.  Our sins are wiped away.

Now, what is the result?  It is so that refreshing times may come from the presence of the Lord. 

Forgiveness feels good, doesn't it?  It is like this big weight that is taken off of our shoulders, we are able to breathe easy, and refreshing times are coming from the presence of the Lord. 

Soon the cold will be over.  But, that means the allergy season will be here.  Many people are going to struggle with breathing, because of allergies.  A number of you have told me how you use the Nettie Pot.  And, you use the Nettie Pot, to what?  To flush the allergies out of your nose, so you can what?  Breathe easy. 

That is what repentance, and that is what having our sins wiped out means.  It means we can breathe easy, and refreshing times come from the presence of the Lord.

Think again of what happened in our text for today.  An action led to an opportunity.  It was the action of the crippled man being healed, being able to walk, jump, and praise God that led to an opportunity.  It led to the opportunity of people being able to share with many people that God had raised Jesus from the dead.  Many people came to faith to believe in Jesus, as their Savior.

Well, here we are worshiping just one week after Easter.  We are reminded of an action that took place.  The action is Jesus' resurrection.  God raised Jesus from the dead.  May we use it as an opportunity to share with others our risen Savior so that sins may be wiped out, and that we may receive refreshing times from the presence of the Lord.