Full Text for Sermon Study for the Third Sunday after Trinity (Text)

' and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple>' and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him, vv. 9. 10. The strange behavior of the formerly lame man naturally attracted the attention of all present. Gradually one after the other recognized him, knew him, the iterative imperfect describing a series of acts. We can hear them voice their astonishment. "Why, this is the very one who was sitting at the Beautiful Gate for alms." There was no doubt as to his identity. Not only did he proclaim it in his song of praise, their own eyes assured them that the same man who had for many years been known to be incurably lame now walked and jumped about. "How is that possible?" They were filled with wonder, {hi!1~o~, that amazement, bordering on terror, caused by the novelty, unexpectedness, inexpli- cability of a happening; amazement, Iht(fta.O'L~, a throwing of the mind out of its normal state, a blending of fear and wonder. They re- alized that here more than human power had been manifested. Whence had these men obtained such power? And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is caZleib Solomon's, greatly wonde,ring, v.11. Had Peter and John intended to pass out of the Temple quietly and unobserved? If so, that was very effectively prevented by the healed man. He held, clung to, the apostles, as though fearing to be separated from them, and in so doing very efficiently served as their publicity agent. For, while he was clinging to them (note the present participle), there took place a concourse of the people toward the porch that is called Solomon's, all wondering, e:dta.!1~OL, terrified, thoroughly amazed, the verb form being used of the terror of Jesus in Gethsemane, Mark 14,33, and of the women at the open grave, Mark 16, 5. Luke purposely uses very strong expressions to describe the deep impression made upon all the people by this miracle. - The Porch of Solomon was one of the covered halls, or colonnades, surrounding the Oourt of the Gentiles and serving as convenient places for public meetings and discussions. Solomon's Porch ran along the eastern wall of the Temple, facing the Sermon Study for the Third Sunday after Trinity. 517 Beautiful Gate. According to Josephus (Ant., XX, 9. 7) it was a part of Solomon's Temple left intact in the destruction by N ebuchadnez- zar, 586 B. 0., a magnificent portico, whose roof was supported by a double row of pillars 38 feet high. Here Jesus had taught, John 10, 23; here the first Ohristian congregation assembled, Acts 5, 12. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us as though by our own power o,r holiness we had made this man to walk? V. 12. "Yemen of Israel"; cpo Acts 2, 22; 5, 35; 13, 16; 21, 18. An honorable address. Israel was the name given by God Himself to their great ancestor, Gen. 32, 28; a title of honor, cpo Ex. 22; 14, 30. 31; Hos. 11, 1; Rom. 9,4; 11, 1. Such a captatio benevoZentiae is not at all out of place if it proceeds not from a spirit of flattery and man-service, but is made for the purpose of calling attention to the truth, in order to gain the good will of one's audience. See the opening words of Paul's epistles. To Israel had been given the promise, and that these Israelites might receive the fulness of what this promise involved was the purpose of Peter's speech, that they be Israelites not only according to the flesh, 1 001'.10,18, but according to the spirit, the Israel of God, Gal. 6, 16. Let us learn from Peter to gain the good will of our congregations by calling their attention to their God-given privileges. "Why marvel ye at this~" "What a bold statement! To Peter this healing, which caused the people to be amazed, to get beside themselves, was nothing to marvel at. It was to him a matter of course. The reason he gives presently. First he rejects any honor that might accrue to him and John. "Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power," power inherent in us, as men, "or holiness," piety, fear of God, "had made this man to walk~" The cause for this miracle is not to be sought in us. Note the emphasis placed on "us," "own power or holiness" by their posi- tion at the beginning of the clauses. All glory belongs solely to God, Ps. 115, 1. The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus, whom ye delivered up and denied Him in the presence of Pilate when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just and desired a mur- derer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses, vv.13-15. The apostles are not preaching a new religion, another God. They are not radicals, liberals, but conservatives in the best sense of the term, conserving the unity of faith as revealed by God Himself in His holy Word. Their God is the same God as that of Israel, of the fathers and patriarchs, the one and only true God, besides whom there is no God, Ex. 3, 15. 16. Your God, the God of your fathers, our God, has glorified His Son J eSliS, EM~a.OE TOV n:a.i:Ila. O:UTOU 'I'l]oouv. 518 Sermon Study for the Thhd Sunday after Trinity. The word ltuts is used in the LXX very frequently in translating the term SG1·vant. In fact, the words of Peter here are almost the exact reproduction of Is. 52, 13: 8 m:ds !lOU ••• Ilo"(;ucr{hlortm. Peter pub- licly declares that Jesus is that Servant who according to this word of prophecy was glorified after deepest humiliation, that Servant upon whom the Lord had laid the iniquity of us all, by whose stripes we are healed, Is. 53, 5. 6. Far from preaching a new doctrine, unheard of in Israel, Peter simply proclaimed the fulfilment of God's well- known promises to Israel in the very words of that ancient prophecy. His preaching is saturated with Old Testament phraseology. God's Servant, that lowly Nazarene, v. 6, has been glorified. Before he shows the manner of God's glorification of His Servant, Peter points out the shameful manner in which Israel had dishonored that self- same Servant, Jesus. Five charges he raises against the people, a five- fold cord placed round about their necks, each strand a fetter un- breakable, unescapable for them, winding itself round about them, strangling them, dragging them down ever deeper into death and damnation. That Servant, whom God glorified; "ye delivered up," ltuQEllwxcnE, the same word used by the evangelists of Judas's betrayal, Matt. 26, 15, etc.; of the delivering of Jesus to Pilate by the, .T eWfi, Matt. 27, 2; of the delivering of Jesus to the Jews by Pilate to be crucified, John 19, 16. Him whom God glorified they delivered up. More than that; you denied Him, did not want to know Him nor acknowledge Him as your Messiah, as the Servant prophesied in Is. 53. You denied Him before Pilate, before his face, audaciously, shame- lessly, though he had determined, decided, and publicly announced his intention, to set him free, Luke 23, 16; John 19, 4. But ye, in shameful contrast to this ignorant heathen, ye denied the HoZy One and Just. That is the third charge. "AyLOS means holy, pure, un- defiled; llLxmos means righteous, living in conformity with the holy Law of God. H oZiness might be called the well-spring; rig hteous- ness, the water gushing forth. Holiness, the inner attitude; right- eousness, the outward manifestation; holiness, the spirit, the char- acter; righteousness, the work, the deed. Note that Peter does not call Jesus a holy and just one; he separates Him from all sinners; he distinguishes Him also from all those who are called holy and just by God Himself. Jesus is in a class by Himself; He is the Holy One and Just. That is an attribute of God, Is. 6, 9; 40,25. Him whom God glorified; Him who had challenged them to prove Him guilty of even one sin, John 8, 46; Him whom even devils acknowledged as the Holy One, Mark 1,24, - Him they denied. Following the prompt- ings of your own sinful wickedness, you desired that instead of the Holy One of Israel there be given you as a gracious gift Cx,uQLO"ihjvllL), a man, o.vllQu, and not a man holy and just, but a murderer, a wicked man, a transgressor of God's will and the law of man. Not satisfied Sermon Study for the Third Sunday after Trinity. 519 with that, you killed the Prince of Life. That is the last and most grievous charge brought by Peter. The Prince, the Author, of life; cf. Heb. 2, 10; 12,2. Some interpreters restrict life to spiritual life. The contrast with murderer, however, seems to indicate that also physical life is included. Christ is the Author of life in every form, physical, mental, spiritual, temporal, eternal. He is the Fountain- head af life, John 5,26; His words were spirit and life, Matt. 11, 5. 6. Him you killed. Unfathomable mystery, unfathomable wickedness! How is it possible that man had the power to kill the Prince of Life, that man should sink so deeply into wickedness as to slay the Holy One and Just? Tl1at is the charge which Peter raised against the Jews of his day in order to bring them to a realization of their guilt. That charge stands to-day against every human being and must be repeated, reiterated, by all faithful preachers without fear or favor until the charge "You have killed the Prince of Life" changes in the mouth of every individual into the confession, "I delivered up, I denied, I killed the Prince of Life." The Prince of Life did not remain dead. That was impossible, chap. 2, 24. You killed and became guilty. God raised Him from the dead and thus became the Justifier of the ungodly through the Author of life. Man did the seemingly impossible, killing the Son of God, thereby sealing, as far as he was concerned, his own doom. God did the seemingly impossible by raising His servant from the dead, that Servant whom He Himself had sent into the world to redeem sinful mankind, Is. 53. By raising Him, the Lord God Almighty Himself put the stamp of approval on the work carried out at His command by His faithful Servant, Rom. 4, 25; 2 Cor. 5, 19 ff. 0 marvelous wis- dom and power of God, who has made the wickedness of man in killing the Prince of Life instrumental in consummating His plan to save man from sin, to forgive man his wickedness, to grant to the slayers of the Prince of Life that life eternal which this Prince through His death, inflicted by mortal man, earned and procured for all mankind! 0 the depth of the riches of the wisdom, the power, the loving-kindness of God! How unfathomable His wisdom, how unsearchable His power! And His grace and mercy, how utterly past finding out! "Whereof we are witnesses." The apostles were not eye-witnesses of the resurrection, but they could witness to the fact that Jesus had risen, since He had appeared to them. And His name, throu.gh faith in His name, hath made this man strong whom ye see and know,' yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all, v. 16. The purpose of the apostles is to turn the attention of the people away from themselves to Jesus. They displayed the same spirit that moved John the Baptist to make his noble confession, John 3, 29 ff. 520 Sermon Study for the Third Sunday after Trinity. Note the stress laid on the name of Jesus and on the faith in His name. Twice the apostle mentions the name of Jesus. That name Jesus was given to this Person by God Himself, Matt. 1, 21, and is, like the person of Jesus, a precious gift of God, Acts 4, 12. In that name and with that name Jesus offers Himself and all His blessings to mankind. That name conveys to all who believingly accept it full, complete life and salvation. Though Jesus Himself is invisible, His name can be seen and heard and read and spoken, and that name is as ointment poured forth, Song of Sol. 1, 3; as a strong tower into which the righteous runs and is safe, Provo 18, 10. This name jus- tifies, sanctifies, preserves, saves to the uttermost, John 1, 12; 20, 31; Acts 10, 43; 1 001'. 6, 11. The power to heal and to save lies indeed in the name of Jesus; yet this name of Jesus is not a magic formula, cpo Acts 19,13-17. Very emphatically Peter states that the lame man was healed through, EltL, on the ground of, faith which rests on Jesus' name, ItLO"tSL 'toil ov6J.1.(l'to~, the genitive denoting that faith makes this name its object, its foundation. The Savior promised the power to perform miracles "in My name" only to those that believe, and believe not only in the efficacy of His name to perform cures, but believe in that Gospel to be preached to aU nations, Mark 16, 16-18, believe unto everlasting life. Only saving faith is efficacious faith, and only the faith of His name, faith trusting in His name, is saving faith. Any other so-called "faith" is superstition, inefficacious, idolatrous. Such faith is not of man's making. Says Peter: "the faith which is by Him," 3L' m!'toil, through Him, wrought by Him. Jesus, the Prince of Life, the Author of our salvation, Heb. 2, 10, is also the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our faith lives, moves, and has its being in 'and by Him alone. Hence so little are we to be regarded as having wrought that miracle by our own power and holiness that the very faith in His name through which that man was cured is not of our own making, but the work of Jesus and His name, Ps. 115, 1. Very significantly the apostle describes the cure as a oA.mtA.'I')QL