Tuesday of Easter III – Acts 3:11-21

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 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. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 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.

A few years ago, as I walked to my office at Concordia, I saw on the street by the entrance to campus a beautiful little blue VW Golf whose front fender, and only the front fender, had been ripped off. It was hanging from the front of the car. It had clearly been the victim of some terrible violence and the nature of the accident meant that it had to have happened right there. The car could not be driven as it was. What could have done such a thing?

I learned later that a delivery truck had taken a left turn from the narrow street where the car was parked. The rear bumper of the truck had swung out as the truck turned, caught the fender of the VW, and destroyed it. The truck’s driver, insulated from the sound and vibration by the loud diesel engine and mass of the truck, did not even know he had done this. He delivered his wares to Concordia’s kitchen and left by the other exit. From reports I heard, when they confronted him with the pictures of the carnage later that day, he was appalled at what he had unwittingly done. 

The crowds in this reading rush to Peter and John today after the lame man at the temple has been healed and gone running and leaping through the temple courts praising God. They want to see what has happened, but Peter has some disquieting news for them. This is all because they have slaughtered the Messiah, the Author of Life, the long-promised Holy One of God. Can you imagine hearing that news? The lame man walking was like the photo shown to the delivery truck driver – what Peter said was true. God was authenticating Peter’s words with the miracle. They had indeed killed Jesus and Jesus was everything Peter said. What must have run through their hearts that day when they heard these words?

Peter goes on to encourage them to repent and be reconciled to the resurrected Christ. Has your life resulted in some collateral damage, some carnage in your wake? Every sinner can look back on at least one relationship harmed, one shameful moment. If Peter could offer these words to the people who had shouted “Crucify!” a few months earlier, know and believe, these words are for you too. Repent, make amends with those whom you have hurt and receive the piece of God. Times of refreshing come to you, better than insurance payments or even a new VW Golf.

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