William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

The Crime Of The Cross (Acts 3:11-16)

3:11-16 As he clung to Peter and John everyone came running to them in the colonnade which is called Solomon's, in a state of complete astonishment. When Peter saw them he said to them, "Men of Israel, why are you surprised at this? Or why do you keep staring at us, as if we had made him walk by our own power or goodness? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, your fathers' God, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and disowned before Pilate, when he had given judgment for his release. You disowned the holy and the just one and you asked for a man who was a murderer to be given to you as a favour. You killed the pioneer of life but God raised him from the dead; and we are his witnesses. And his name, through faith in his name, has given strength to this man whom you see and know. It is the faith which is through him, which has thus given him back his health in presence of you all."

Here sound three of the dominant notes of early Christian preaching.

(i) The early preachers always stressed the basic fact that the crucifixion was the greatest crime in human history. Whenever they speak of it there is a kind of shocked horror in their voices. They tried to stab men's minds with the realization of the sheer crime of the Cross. It is as if they said, "Look what sin can do."

(ii) The early preachers always stressed the vindication of the resurrection. It Is simple fact that without the resurrection the Church would never have come into being. The resurrection was proof that he was indestructible and was Lord of life and of death. It was the final proof that behind him there was God and therefore a power which nothing could stop.

(iii) The early preachers always stressed the power of the Risen Lord. They never regarded themselves as the sources of power but only as channels of power. They were well aware of their limitations but were also well aware that there was no limitation to what the Risen Christ could do through them and with them. Therein lies the secret of the Christian life. So long as the Christian thinks only of what he can do and be, there can be nothing but failure and frustration and fear. But when he thinks of "not I, but Christ in me" there can be nothing but peace and power.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible