Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Acts 3:17-20 repent and turn back

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, September 16, 2019

17 “Now, brothers,  I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your rulers. 18 But what God foretold through all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he fulfilled in this way. 19 So repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away, and in order that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,  20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you: Jesus.

In these verses, Peter holds out one of the most compassionate statements in all of Scripture. He allows that rejecting Jesus and handing him over to be crucified may have been done in ignorance, and so there is still forgiveness for anyone and everyone who turns now to Jesus in faith.

In verse 18, Peter says that it was foretold that Christ should suffer. This was certainly one way of understanding the Old Testament Scriptures, and as we know from the New Testament, it is the only correct way to understand them. But we should recognize that some Jews wondered whether there would, on the one hand, be a “suffering servant” and on the other hand a “glorious Messiah.” The servant might be a human, but the Messiah would be the Son of God. Note some of the differences:

The Righteous One (Messiah), King

  • Daniel 9:26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.
  • 2 Samuel 23:3 ‘When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God,
  • Isaiah 32:1 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice.
  • Zechariah 9:9   Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
  • Isaiah 53:11 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

The Suffering Servant of God

  • Psalm 22:6-7 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.  All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
  • Psalm 69:20-21 Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
  • Jeremiah 11:19 I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.
  • Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

In Jesus, these prophecies are all about the same servant, the anointed Messiah, Jesus Christ. It surprised some that he would be both glorious and despised, the giver of life and yet the one who died, but God does not work in such a way that human reason or wisdom can always grasp him. “Repent,” Peter says, “Turn back.” There was forgiveness even for the Sanhedrin and those who demanded that Jesus should be crucified. Don’t imagine that God cannot forgive your sins, however grave they might be. Jesus is the King who suffered on our behalf. He is the mighty one who let himself become powerless, the avenger who spilled his own blood to satisfy the debt of our sins. Through Jesus there is forgiveness, and we have the promise of everlasting life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

Browse Devotion Archive