“Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the Prophets, saying that His Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the LORD, and that He might send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.”
There is nothing more satisfying than a well written story in which the reader is engaged in the mystery that is at its heart. When the reader gets to the end of the story and all is revealed then all of the little hints along the way suddenly fall into focus. They make sense now that the purpose of the story has been revealed. Sometimes the final revelation leaves us wondering why it was that we did not “see” it all along. The Apostle Paul tells the Colossians that the mystery of the Gospel has finally been revealed and it is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
It seems that this is what is at the heart of the sermon which the Apostle Peter is preaching in the Temple on the occasion of the healing of the man born crippled. As Peter begins to explore the message of the cross he does so from the point of view of those who are listening to him. This is a sermon which has as its purpose the convicting of Peter’s hearers of their personal responsibility for the cross of Christ. Conversion always begins with conviction. God must first bring us to a clear understanding of our own personal lostness in sin. It is this which Peter is aiming at. True it is that the cross of Christ was God’s plan of redemption. The LORD Jesus Christ came and freely went to the cross in order to bear our sin. So why are Peter’s hearers, and we ourselves, responsible for crucifying Him? Peter will explain that it is owing to our unbelief. We will look more carefully at this below. For our purposes here Peter tells us that what we, his readers and hearers, did was done in ignorance. We did not know who He really was, because we did not understand what the Scriptures said about Him.
This is how God fulfilled His plan which was foretold by all the prophets. The constant teaching of the Old Testament is that when the Christ comes He must suffer for His people. Isaiah 53 tells us that He will take upon Himself our iniquities. It is as if Peter is saying here that what Isaiah stated received a hearty amen from all of the other Prophets. What was done in ignorance resulted in the fulfillment of God’s plan. We are however responsible for what we have participated in ignorantly.
Now in the fullness of time the mystery has been made clear to us. God has pulled back the veil and allowed us to see exactly what we have done. Therefore we are now responsible to repent and turn to God so that the cross of Christ might cover over our sins. God is at work in our world fulfilling the plan that He announced through His Prophets so long ago. What His purpose in the cross of Christ is has now been made clear to us. He calls us to believe Him as He speaks His Word of truth to us in Christ. His call is a call to faith. We must turn away from our unbelief so that we might embrace His Christ.
Peter makes his appeal to his hearers and readers with an abundance of evidence from the Scriptures. There is Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19, Samuel and the other Prophets appealing to the evidence of David in 1 Samuel 16:13, and 2 Samuel 7:12-16, Abraham in Genesis 22:18, and 26:4, as well as the reference that the Apostle Paul makes to these truths as he writes to the Galatians (Galatians 3:16). All of this evidence calls us to faith. We have heard the Gospel call repeatedly and we can no longer claim ignorance.
Therefore the question for each of us is this. Do you believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Christ come to deliver you from your personal sin?