First Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Peter to the People
Peter said to the people:
13 The God of our ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, gave his servant Jesus glory! This was the same person you arrested and rejected before Governor Pilate. Even when Pilate wanted to release him! 14 Jesus was holy and good, but you rejected him. Instead, you wanted a murderer released in his place. 15 Jesus leads everyone to life, but you killed him. So, God raised him from the dead. We are eye witnesses to what happened.
17 Now, my friends, I know that you and your leaders didn't really know what you were doing. 18 But, through the prophets in the Bible, God showed everyone his Christ had to suffer and die. And this is what he did. 19. So change your lives! Turn back to God! That way, God will wipe all your sins away!
Peter said to the people:
13 The God of Abraham, [the God] of Isaac, and [the God] of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, gloried his SERVANT JESUS, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate when he determined to release that (ONE). 14 But you denied the holy and righteous (ONE) and asked to be favored with a man, a murderer, 15 but you murdered the SOURCE of Life WHOM God raised from the dead, to which (event) we are witnesses.
17 Now, brothers, I know that you and indeed your leaders did (this deed) through ignorance. 18 Through the mouth of his prophets, God foretold his CHRIST to suffer, thus he fulfilled. 19 So, repent and return for your sins to be wiped away (by God).
3:13 "God of Abraham, [the God] of Isaac, and [the God] of Jacob" was a traditional title for the God of Israel. The title came from Exodus 3:6, 15. The addition of "God" to Isaac and Jacob were made in some Greek manuscripts, but are redundant.
"(young) servant JESUS" The Greek word "paidos" can mean "boy servant." But the reference is clearly to Isaiah's "Servant of the Lord." The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, used this word in Isaiah 52:13 as "servant." Early Christians used the image of the Suffering Servant from Isaiah to identify Jesus as the Messiah.
"in the presence of Pilate" is literally "in the face of Pilate."
3:14 "righteous (ONE)" was a title give to the Messiah. It came from Isaiah 53:11.
The book of Acts was divided into two parts: the Jerusalem ministry of the Apostles (i.e., St. Peter) and the travels of St. Paul. Peter's speech was made in part one. Peter preached to the crowd after the healing a well-known disabled person in the name of Jesus.
The focus of the crowd was on Peter and John as the sources of the event. Peter and John, however give credit to Jesus the Messiah. Many people, even today, confuse healing with magic. Magic uses trickery, while healing comes from God in response to prayer and need. Magic gives glory to the magician; healing gives glory to God.
In Acts 3:13-15, Peter preached against the crowd in order to cause a reaction. Along with the Jewish leaders, the citizens of Jerusalem who called for Jesus' blood at Passover share in the guilt of his death. Peter placed the crowd's guilt against the innocence of Jesus, God's glorified servant (3:13), the Holy and Righteous One (3:14), and the author of life (3:15). Jesus and the crowd stood opposite from each other. The crowd committed evil, while Jesus followed God's will.
Just as important, Luke wrote about Jesus in a way that was beyond the ordinary. The "author of life" title hint at the divinity of Jesus. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus revealed God present and active.
In 3:15, Peter proclaimed that he and the other early disciples were "witnesses." Spreading the Good News was done by word of mouth, beginning with eye witnesses. Early preaching stressed such first hand accounts and focused upon the Apostles as the source of such accounts. Any preaching different from the Apostles were considered second rate. (Did this mean that there were competing groups of non-Apostolic Christians preaching a different gospel? Most likely).
In 3:17, Peter recognized the ignorance of the crowd. The sin of the crowd was not their ignorance, but their lack of discernment. They acted in a way contrary to God's will. Would they have acted differently if they sought intimacy with God? (Would we?)
Finally, in 3:18-19, God showed he could work, even through ignorance and spiritual sloth. While people could always look backward for insight, they are always faced with Peter's challenge of faith. Did they want to say "yes" to God and change? (Do we?)
The speech of Peter pointed to the Good News and its demands. God offered them a chance and a choice. He offers us the same. Will we believe? Will we turn toward him?
Reread Acts 3:13-19. What titles for Jesus touch you? And challenge you to turn to God?