There is something about the feeling of a place being used for its intended purpose. Think about a family moving into a newly built home or a baseball team’s first game in their new stadium.
Or what about what we see here in Acts 3? This moment marks the first recorded time that the gospel was preached in the hundreds-of-years-old temple, a place meant for worship and encountering God, after Jesus rose from the dead. The Church was brand new. The temple was old. And in its oldest part, the last ruins of the first temple built by Solomon, Peter preached this gospel sermon.
We’re told that the beggar he healed came every day, but he was asking for alms, not the gospel, and those that ran toward Peter were astonished by the miracle before they even heard the message.
When Peter says to this curious crowd, “You denied the Holy and Righteous one” (Acts 3:14), it is not abstract. Among Peter’s listeners were likely many of the same people who shouted for Jesus’s crucifixion. For some in that crowd, who had called out for Barabbas to be spared over Jesus, the thought that He was risen from the dead would have been very scary (Matthew 27:15–26). Only a few months had passed since Jesus had turned out the moneychangers from the temple (Matthew 21:11–13). If Peter’s claims were true, then they had mistreated the Messiah, the one foretold by the prophets, the promised one who fulfilled the law of Moses. They might have expected to be treated worse than the money changers by this resurrected Messiah.
But there is instead immense grace in Peter’s sermon. Peter tells them it was not an accident that Jesus Christ was crucified. It was according to the scriptures that He died to cover out their sins, and God raised Jesus from the dead to bless them. “Repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20).
Every person, those seeking healing and those who walked on their own legs through that gate called Beautiful, needed the same gospel Peter shared. The Author of life had been raised from the dead! Faith in Him alone would make these people whole and strong. The good news was shared: Jesus was raised from the dead. God had kept His promise, and He would continue keeping His promises until the restoration of all things.