Yes, onlookers were amazed at the healing miracle that had occurred with the restoration of a grown man who had been lame from birth; and the contagious faith of Peter and the other apostles was moving in their direction. But Peter was not about to fall for the adulation of the crowd. That’s the sort of thing that steals glory from its deserving Owner and tempts the messenger to become puffed up. When that happens, the message of God’s healing power gets stuck on performers rather inspire others to deep abiding faith in God.So he tells them, “by in his name, his name itself has made this man strong…and the faith that is through Jesus has given him perfect health in the presence of all of you”(3:16).
It was God’s doing, and not theirs (the apostles). The people needed to accept that Jesus was the One whom God had promised through the patriarchs and prophets, through Abraham, through Moses, through Samuel and those after him. It was the same God who had blessed their forbears and who would in the future bless them, but whose plan they had rejected because of ignorance. They had not even recognized that the Messiah’s suffering was all part of the plan that God had laid well in advance and had told them about. The only way they could set things right was to change course. They were to “repent therefore and turn to God so that [their] sins would be wiped out (3:19).
Bur God’s plan is so very interesting. It is enabling. Even for the repentance that the Lord demands, God provides enabling. “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you, by turning each of you from your wicked ways (3:26)”.
It is the Lord himself who turns us and sets us on the right course. That’s why we speak of prevenient grace. The energy to fuel the very change that we need to embrace comes from the Giver of Life.
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in his justice which is more than liberty.
For the love of God is broader than the measures of our mind
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)