They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. Acts 4:7-14 NIV
We are told in Acts 2, 3, and 4 that, “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,” addresses a crowd (Acts 4:8a). Each of these sermons follow a similar pattern. First, Peter explains the event that just occurred: the coming and manifestation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14-21), the power of Jesus’ name in the healing of a lame man (Acts 3:12 &16), and his and John’s arrest because of the healing (Acts 4:9). Second, Peter explains the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. This includes that 1. Jesus died (Acts 2:23, 3:13, 4:10), 2. he was resurrected by God, (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:10) and 3. He has been exalted to the right hand of God Acts 2:33, 3:13b & 21, 4:12). Third, Peter calls his audience to repent and be baptized. For example, in Acts 2:37 the crowd asks what they should do and Peter replies, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,”(Acts 2:38).
Both sermons feature many Old Testament quotations from both the Psalms and the prophets. In Acts 2 Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 to explain the Holy Spirit enabling the Apostles to speak languages they did not know and to proclaim the Messianic age has come. He quotes Psalm 16:8-11 and Psalm 110:1 to demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled these prophecies about the Messiah’s resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God. In Acts 3 Peter refers to a suffering Messiah as Isaiah taught about. He also quotes Genesis 22:18a “and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,” and applies this to Jesus – as the means for all nations to be blessed. Peter quotes Psalm 118:22 when he tells the Sanhedrin that Jesus is the capstone that they rejected.
Peter tells his audience in Acts 2:32 and 3:15 that the Apostles were witnesses of these events. What have you and I witnessed in our lives that demonstrate how Jesus has transformed us? Have you thought about how your story can be shared with others to point them to Jesus? Perhaps the first step would be to write your story. Then, ask God to show you who could benefit from hearing it. All of us can share our own story of how Jesus has worked in our lives.
By Grace Hunter