Acts 3: 12-19 (NRSVA)
12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
17 ‘And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out,
What’s in a name? Well, it depends in part on whose name it is. It’s early days for the disciples, but already Jerusalem is awake to something radically different taking place within her walls. In his third sermon, delivered in Solomon’s Portico, Peter links the great names of Jewish life and tradition — Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — with Jesus, the Holy and Righteous One, the Author of Life, an outrageous notion of course to some of those listening. But it’s to the name of Jesus, the One previously rejected and killed, that the previously crippled but now ambulant beggar owes his healing and strength.There was power in this name to make the kingdom of God a reality, a bringing of heaven to earth in the beggar man’s formerly impoverished life.
How we address other people indicates to an extent how we regard them, so Peter’s manner of speaking to the ever-larger crowd is interesting. He calls them ‘friends’ or ‘brothers’ (verse 17), acknowledges their error, and points them in the direction of repentance. This ‘grace note’ is even extended to the ‘rulers’ (probably temple staff and religious leaders) who stand offstage, awaiting their big moment (see 4: 1-2).
It’s all there, friends: opportunity, the presence of the Spirit to empower and heal, the awakening of grace…
And it’s also here, friends! On this very ordinary, but nonetheless God-given day in April 2021, dear sisters and brothers, called by Christ and members of this same community, how shall we live and act in light of these truths?
Lord Jesus, whose name we honour above all names,
Awaken us to love and serve you in the power of your Holy Spirit,
That both our lives and those of others, may be changed
And restored to their full potential,