Formations 06.30.2024: Getting There

Acts 3:12-26

In Luke’s story of Jesus, a lot happened between Peter’s denial of Christ in Luke 22 and his bold preaching in today’s passage. Luke doesn’t tell us about his reconciliation with Jesus after the resurrection, but he does report that Jesus appeared to him (Luke 24:34). More important to Luke is the coming of the Holy Spirit, a blessing promised in Luke 24 and narrated in Acts 2.

Today, we see the full development of Peter’s faith. In the beginning, he leapt to follow Jesus enthusiastically though perhaps impulsively. Later, he confesses that Jesus is the Messiah—and then immediately shows his profound misunderstanding of what that title means. Before the crucifixion, Peter crumbles under pressure and denies that he even knows Jesus.

Now, though, he is cool under pressure and bold in his preaching. Brought before the Sanhedrin after healing a lame man at the temple, Peter uses the occasion to fearlessly proclaim the name of Jesus.

What a turnaround! A few months earlier, he denied he even knew Jesus. Perhaps a year or so earlier, he had no clue what Jesus was all about even after hearing him teach and watching him heal for who knows how long. Now, though, he traces the contours of Jesus’s saving work in a concise and compelling way. Furthermore, he calls for his hearers—the religious elites of Jerusalem!—to repent of their sins and turn to God (v. 19). Only then, he says, will they find cleansing and “times of refreshing” (v. 20).

You don’t preach that message to that audience without deep conviction. It took a long time for Peter to get to this point, but let’s be encouraged that he did. And if he got there, then we can, too.

Discussion

• How might Peter have felt standing before the council that sentenced Jesus to death?
• Where did his boldness come from? Does it come from one source or several? Explain.
• How do we inoculate ourselves against criticism of our beliefs and values? How can a bold word break through our theological defenses?
• When is boldness called for? Why?
• What does Peter have to say about Jesus’s identity and mission?
• What does Peter promise the Sanhedrin if they will listen?
• Speculate: Do you think Nicodemus (John 3:1-10; 7:50-52) or Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42) were present to hear Peter’s address? If so, what might they have said or done afterward?
• What are the “times of refreshing” to which he refers?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.

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