17] “yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18] But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
In our last post, we saw that Peter refused to take credit for the healing of the lame man, but rather turned the attention of his audience to what was important, namely, that they had rejected and crucified their Messiah, probably because He didn’t “measure up” to the expectations of the rulers and the people. They though He would come in regal splendor, destroy the Romans and all other of Israel’s enemies, and set up the Davidic kingdom promised in the Old Testament.
They didn’t understand that there was a greater enemy to be destroyed and a greater need to be fulfilled. They didn’t understand that they, themselves, needed to be redeemed. True, they had been “redeemed” from Egyptian slavery and made into a nation and were known as God’s people, but that didn’t do anything about their sin problem. Even though the Old Testament foretold that Messiah would give Himself as a Sacrifice for sin, that He would “suffer,” they really hadn’t focused on the idea. As Peter put it, they were “ignorant” of God’s purpose.
This should give us something to think about. Especially with the rulers, here were men who were well-versed in the Old Testament, probably beyond what any of us could hope to achieve. These men, no doubt, knew the “letter” of the law, and yet had never spelled out its message. So when the promised Messiah came, they put Him on a Roman cross.
However, and contrary to those who believe that God is done with Israel, it was through the very means of their rejection of Messiah and His death that Israel will eventually be redeemed and restored, Romans 11:26, Jeremiah 31:1. Their sins had to be paid for, just like yours and mine.
At the same time, let us apply this personally. Do WE know the Word, or do we just know ABOUT it? A very small percentage of professing Christians have ever read the Bible through, yet that Word is the only place we can learn about God, about ourselves and about this world, both now and in the future. Does the Word bear fruit in our lives? Does it bring us in repentance and faith to the feet of Jesus? I’m not talking about “being saved” over and over, but rather with dealing with the fact of our inborn sinfulness, as mourned over by Paul in Romans 7.
Yet it wasn’t Peter’s intent in Acts 3 to have the people focus on themselves, or just to beat themselves up. His intent was to bring them to that One who had foretold the death of Christ, and then had fulfilled His Word. As we said earlier, no power on earth or elsewhere could have put Christ on the Cross if He had not been willing to go there, and no power on earth or elsewhere could have kept Him from it once He decided to go.
It’s sometimes difficult for us to see the hand of God in the things of life among the many other “hands” with which we have to do. Unbelievers and skeptics scoff at or deny that He exists at all. Others seem to have the idea that He stands anxiously on the sidelines of our lives until we decide to send Him into the game. But in this most evil of all events – the crucifixion of God incarnate, God was at work to fulfill His eternal purpose, Ephesians 3:11. As Daniel, standing before the most powerful king of his time, said, He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” Daniel 4:35.
He is faithful to His promise.