Monday, December 03, 2018

Peter can dish it out, too!

Most of us are fascinated, perhaps even in a puerile manner, at Paul's rebuke of Peter at Antioch as recorded in Gal. 2:11-21.

But let us not forget that Peter could dish it out as well. In fact, Peter gives perhaps the strongest rebuke recorded in the New Testament.  It comes in his second sermon as recorded in Acts 3:11-25 (his first being the Pentecost sermon.)

The segue into the sermon is the healing of the man who was lame from birth (
 “He went walking and leaping and praising God” ). Later the man came and clung to Peter and John. This was a normal human response, not a theological statement. The man’s theology was solid: He praised God, not the apostles.

The people who converged on the scene, and who were aware that a man who was lame from birth was now ready for So you think you can Horah? were understandably amazed and ready to lavish Peter and John with praise. Here Peter begins the crescendo of his sharp rebuke. “Why are you amazed?” Peter asks, which he means rhetorically, otherwise the correct response would have been “well, duh!”

Peter then tells them why they should not have been amazed, and he does so with Holy Spirit inspired genius.  He begins by compactifying (as opposed to scripture quoting) the Old Testament in a way that would have been far more striking to his audience than it is to us. (Well, to me anyway.) Peter begins with:
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus,
Peter identifies Jesus first by his association with Yahweh, but the specific description he attaches is not Son or King or Prophet but servant. This is a clear reference to Isaiah 53, and would have been the same as simply saying the Messiah, but the teacher in me appreciates that Peter's approach was pedagogically superior.  Perhaps for those too dense to connect the obvious dots, Peter throws in more Old Testament messianic titles: the Holy One and the Righteous One.

Then comes the culmination of the rebuke. Peter informs them that it was not he and, but rather this Jesus, the very Messiah, whose power, manifested through faith, healed the lame man.  But Peter doesn’t stop there. He goes on: And you know what? You killed him. Pilate wanted to free him and yet you chose a murderer over the Messiah.

Ouch. That would deflate anyone’s balloon.

1 comment:

  1. And this was after Pentecost. I wonder if there was a similar response.