A circle of friends on pilgrimage for the love of God

Easter 2

Apostle Peter Preaching by Lorenzo Veneziano (1370)

Easter 2, 2024
Rev. Doug Floyd
Acts 3:12, 13-15,17-26; John 20:19-31

The disciples are huddled behind a locked door for fear of the Jews. Suddenly Jesus stands in their midst, saying “Peace be with you.” He tells these frail and fearful disciples that He is sending them out. They are His witnesses.

Jump ahead seven weeks and these same frail and fearful disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit. As we watch and hear them address the crowds, we behold Spirit of the Risen Christ speaking and moving through them.

While Luke is telling the story of these disciples in Acts of the Apostles, he is also helping us to realize that the earliest Gospels are not Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are not even the epistles of Paul. The earliest Gospels are the spoken by the disciples under the power of the Spirit.

When they refer to the Scriptures, they are referring to the Old Testament. If we look at Peter’s sermon today, we see certain patterns. He begins with an event. Peter and John encounter a man begging at the Beautiful Gate as people went in the temple. The man asks Peter and John for alms.

John tells the man, “Look at us!” Peter says, “I don’t have any silver or gold but I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk.” Immediately the man gets up and starts walking and leaping and praising God.

The crowds sees this miracle and presses in around Peter and John. Peter stands up and interprets this event in light of the Old Testament. He will connect the miracle, with the Old Testament and show how all this points to Christ and especially to the culmination of all things in Christ.  

Peter explains that this man was not healed due to Peter and John but in and through Jesus Christ. As he does this, he connects Israel’s history to Jesus. He says, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.”[1]

Just weeks before, Peter was huddled in a locked room in fear of the Jews. Now Peter is emboldened by the Spirit of the Lord and he confronts those Jews who handed Jesus over to Pilate and demanded His crucifixion.

Then Peter’s sermon takes a turn. He tells the very people who were guilty in turning against Christ that they acted in a way that fulfilled ancient prophecies. “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.”[2]

Peter invites the people to repent. He says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”[3]

This dense paragraph points to ancient prophecies while pointing ahead to the promise of restoration in Christ. Specifically, Peter points back to Moses but it is clear he is drawing upon Abraham, David, and most likely Isaiah.

The Lord blesses Abraham and tells him, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[4] This promise points to a blessing that will extend to all families. It is a promise of restoration to the nations who have been corrupted by sin and death.

Moses speaks of another prophet who is to come. This prophet is Jesus. But now the Spirit of Christ is speaking through the disciples. The kingdom is extending through God’s witnesses.

Let’s go back to Peter’s statement: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

Peter speaks of restoring all things. I’ve noticed that many contemporary commentators either skip over this phrase all together or focusing primarily upon the Jews and Gentiles brought together as one new man in Christ.

Origen links this verse with Zephaniah’s prophecies. This passage emphasizes both God’s coming judgment and raising up a people holy unto the Lord. Zephaniah says,

“Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. [5]

After this purifying judgment, the Lord will raise up a people holy unto Him.

“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord. [6]

This cosmic vision of Christ comes through in the sermons of the Apostles and the writings of Paul. I fact, the most quote passage from the Old Testament in the New Testament is Psalm 110.

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! [7]

Paul uses this text to emphasize the cosmic rule of Christ over all things even death. He writes,

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. [8]

This kind of thinking will come to dominate the way the early church understands Christ. Just think, seven weeks earlier the disciples are huddling in fear. Now the Holy Spirit has come upon the disciples, and they are getting a glimpse of the magnitude of Christ’s rule.

In this season of Eastertide, we are facing the risen Christ. As we listen to these texts during Eastertide, I would pray we would begin to get a glimpse of the glory and power and wisdom of Christ. Like the disciples, I think we are subject to see the enemies of the faith as overwhelming. Some Christians are overcome with fear, overcome with anger, overcome with a sense of powerlessness.

With a renewed vision of our Lord and Christ, we discover that we can trust Him and rest in His absolute faithfulness.

Just as the early disciples were witnesses to the risen Lord, we are witnesses to Christ. The Spirit of God rests upon us and he can open our eyes to the beauty of the Lord. Even as we see the enemies of God in culture, we need not huddle in fear but we can live as joyful witnesses of Christ our Lord.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 3:13–15.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 3:18.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 3:19–21.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 12:3.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Zep 3:8.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Zep 3:9.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ps 110:1–2.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 15:24–28.

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