Thru the Bible – Day 280

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Day 280 – Thru the Bible

Today we continue in Acts.

Acts 3The first three chapters of Acts form a triad, focused on the Spirit and the empowerment for witnessing to the name of Jesus that the Spirit will bring. Chapter 1 showed the apostles waiting for the Spirit, chapter 2 marked the coming of the Spirit, and now chapter 3 shows the apostles being empowered with the Spirit (on being “filled” with the Holy Spirit, 2:4; 4:8; 4:31).

The power of God’s salvation not only creates generosity but also drives concern for the weak and afflicted, as seen in Peter and John’s interaction with this beggar. He is not just a statistic to them but a person. There is no wealth required to be a channel for God’s grace to transform this man’s body and heart. While Peter and John have no money, neither does the beggar; he has nothing whatsoever to offer in exchange for healing, but that is no hindrance to the grace of Jesus, who extends His power of healing to one who has no right or ability to claim it.

The power of Jesus Christ creates such amazement that it requires an explanation. This mirrors Jesus’ own pattern, as He often followed miraculous healings with periods of teaching on the nature of the kingdom of God. The miracles in Scripture should be seen not so much as models that we should seek to repeat but as evidences of divine authority for God’s special messengers.

As people marvel at the power of the apostles, Peter immediately renounces praise and redirects their gaze to Jesus: everything is about Jesus, whom God has glorified by raising him from the dead. Peter insists that this miraculous healing is the work of the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom his fellow Jews were on their way to worship. Even though they have failed to honor God’s Messiah and are filled with sin that deserves judgment, God nevertheless continues to call them back to rest in Him.

Jesus is “the Holy and Righteous One.” In Isaiah 53:11 the “servant” of the Lord, a messianic title, is called the “righteous one,” and this is picked up later in Acts as well (Acts 7:52; 22:14). Jesus is also the “Author of life”, and yet His own people have rejected Him and killed Him.

That Jesus would suffer and die was a surprise for most of the Jews, and a significant stumbling block to their believing in Jesus as the promised Messiah (1 Corinthians 1:23). But Peter points out that the suffering of the Messiah was foretold by the prophets. Isaiah spoke of the Messiah as one who “was pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). David foreshadowed the suffering of the Messiah in a psalm that Jesus quoted on the cross: “They have pierced my hands and feet . . . they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:16, 18; Matthew 27:35, 46). God tends to work triumph through the paradoxical means of weakness. The suffering of Jesus is not the finale, but a necessary prelude to His glorification (Philippians 2:6–11).

Moses spoke of the promised Messiah as one who would be “a prophet like me” (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18). Jesus is a better and truer Moses, like him in many ways, but excelling him in others (Hebrews 3:1–6). Like Moses, Jesus in His infancy must be rescued from a king who kills hundreds of infants in an attempt to find Him (Matthew 2:1–21; Exodus 1:8–2:10). Like Moses, Jesus delivers a law for the people of God from a mountaintop (Matthew 5–7; Exodus 19:20). Like Moses, Jesus delivers His people from slavery; but whereas Moses’ deliverance only saved the Israelites from physical peril, Jesus delivers us from the slavery of sin and death (Galatians 4:4–7; Hebrews 2:15). Jesus’ “exodus” beyond the cross to the resurrection (Luke 9:31) allows us to follow Him—as a prophet like Moses—to the promised land of eternal life.

Not only Moses, but “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him” had foretold the coming of Jesus in “these days.” Peter makes it personal for His Jewish brothers and sisters, reminding them that “you are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed’.” Jesus is the culmination of God’s plan of salvation from the beginning, the fulfillment of the promises God made to the founder of the nation of Israel to bless the entire world through the offspring of Abraham. Now that promised descendant has come, as Peter says, “to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” He urges them to respond by repenting so that they can receive “refreshing . . . from the presence of the Lord.” Though they are guilty of killing the promised Messiah, God is not seeking to punish them but instead He wants to bless and restore them. Marvelous grace!

How do the correlations between Jesus and Moses help you see how the Old Testament points us continually to Jesus?

 

Acts 4Chapter 4 marks the first persecution of the early followers of Jesus, a topic that will continue in the next triad of chapters (4–6) and reach its culmination in the gospel message and stoning of Stephen (chapter 7). From this chapter on, Acts will illustrate the diametrically opposed system of the “world”—its thinking, motivation, and values—and the lordship of Jesus and the values of His kingdom.

Peter and John are known to be “uneducated” and common men, yet they speak with “boldness”. Credentials or eloquence in public speaking are not necessary to proclaim the gospel to others. The power of God is that much more astonishing when working through regular people. Our many flaws are not barriers to God’s work or love; instead, they glorify God all the more.

Peter points to Jesus fulfilling one of the Psalms: “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22; Acts 2:25–28, 34–35; 4:11). Jesus mentioned this prophecy during His earthly ministry (Luke 20:17), and Peter elaborates on it in the first of his letters (1 Peter 2:4–8). Though rejected by His own people and crucified, Jesus was vindicated when God raised Him from the dead. He now occupies the chief position, the cornerstone, around which the entire church is built up.

Paradoxical as it may seem, God’s sovereignty, even in predetermining the crucifixion, does not prevent prayer but rather encourages it. Since Jesus reigns supreme, He is the one to approach with our needs.

Here we see the prayer that God answers: the prayer for boldness to speak His word. In light of the threats from the established powers, it would be understandable for the Believers to pray for relief from persecution. Instead they ask for renewed courage to proclaim the word of God. But if these Christians avoided prayers for protection, it was not because they believed God was unable to protect them. In fact, by quoting Psalm 2, they are claiming the truth that God is sovereign over kings and lords.

Rulers oppose God in vain, not simply because He is stronger but because He orchestrates the plots of evil people to conform to His will. The Believers can be bold because they know that the effects of evil are fleeting, and those who oppose the gospel are no threat to God, who is always in control. What others intend for evil, He will work for good (Genesis 50:20). The ultimate example of this was the crucifixion of Jesus, which seemed like the final triumph of evil over good but was in fact the very culmination of God’s plan to redeem the world.

Knowing God’s tendency to maneuver the plots of people to accomplish His redemptive purposes, we can be bold and trust God. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Not even those who decide matters of life and death pose a true threat, for we know the One who has defeated death.

How have you seen God working through your weaknesses?

 

What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?

 

Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.

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