Before you read on, close your eyes and take a deep breath.
To help us understand our passage today, we’re going to start by stepping back in time to first century Jerusalem. Imagine the dusty streets filled with smelly animals and merchants yelling loudly to advertise the goods at their booths. Feel the hot sun beating against your back, as you walk toward the temple for worship. You go there everyday, because you are a righteous Jew. But you always feel uncomfortable walking in because the entry is lined with beggars, many of whom are disabled. It’s the same people you walk past everyday. You recognize their faces from the brief glances you take.
As you’re preparing to leave the temple after your worship, you see a man who looks oddly familiar. You realize he’s one of the beggars. But he used to be unable to walk, and now he’s jumping around! You don’t know what to make of it. So you run toward the crowd gathering around the two men attributed with the healing. Who are they? What is it they’re saying?
14 “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. 17 Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Who makes up the crowd Peter and John are addressing?
What is Peter accusing the listeners of? What is his call to action?
What does this healing have to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection?
Why do you think "times of refreshing" comes when we repent, or turn from our sin back to God?
Think of a time recently that you’ve rejected God or acted in ignorance. Ask God to forgive you and help you choose Him.
Take a deep breath and picture the scene again.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
Continue to imagine the scene. These men seem to speak with confidence and authority, like they’ve been with God. Could Jesus of Nazareth who we thought was a liar or crazy really have been the Son of God? It’s in His name that these men heal physical disabilities. It’s in His name that they preach forgiveness of sins. Perhaps, there’s more to Him than we thought. But if you choose to follow, will your friends and family disown you? Might you lose business at your shop? And, yet, you feel a draw toward them. There’s a joy and a peace about them, even with their radical way of living. Or perhaps, because of their radical way of living. “Repent… turn to God… that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
Now, it’s up to you to decide. Will you repent and follow this God who heals? Or will you walk back to the normal routine of your life, never really knowing what you could’ve had?