Why Do You Wonder At This?

Key Texts: Acts 3:12-19

When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.

But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.  In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.

Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out,”

It’s nothing new: God does something amazing, and some just stand back and scratch their heads in wonder.

It’s also not new that when God does something miraculous there are plenty who either

  1. Attribute it to some extraordinary human action or
  2. Attribute it to some other “natural” cause, easily explained.

The world of faith leaves no room for this.

Peter had it right.

I am sure that Peter and the other apostles were perfectly capable of making a distinction in their mind as to what they did under their own steam – and what God did miraculously.

I am sure that they had no problem with saying they often acted as any other normal, frail, infallible human beings did – for better or worse.  Peter, of all men, would understand this.  He had done some noble and extraordinary things as a man.  He had also done some terrible things – the worst of which was denying and betraying his Lord during his darkest hour.

I am also sure that Peter was clear – crystal clear – in his mind and in his testimony about all that God was doing to usher in the kingdom, just as Jesus had promised.

Years later, we should stand on those same, sure-footed legs of faith.

We can do extraordinary, powerful things for the kingdom of God, in the name of Christ.

We can bring healing, and wholeness, and “the peace that passes all understanding.”

We do not do it on our own.  We do it by freely placing at God’s disposal all that we are and all that we have – and God takes it from there and when, by God’s grace something miraculously wonderful happens – we must do what Peter did.

We must ask those who marvel:

“Why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we did this?”

To God be the glory.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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