[Peter continued,] "Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah — that he must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away."
— Acts 3:17-19 NLT
Jesus had prepared the way for Peter's words of grace in these verses when he asked the Father to forgive his murderers: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Their jealousy and hatred, based on their failure to recognize who Jesus really was when he was among them, had stirred them to crucify him. Despite acting in ignorance, God used the actions of the hostile crowd to fulfill what the prophets had foretold about the Messiah suffering and giving his life as a sin offering (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; cf. Hebrews 9:28, 10:12). While those who crucified Jesus were culpable for their actions, Jesus and his early followers recognized that they had acted in ignorance. Rather than hating them, the early disciples wanted them to come to Jesus and be forgiven. In the early Jewish disciples' minds, Jesus' opponents were, in fact, still their "friends" (literally, "brethren"). Like his Lord, Peter wanted those who murdered the Christ to be forgiven, not killed. Peter's hope, and the heart of his message, was for the people responsible for Jesus' death to turn their hearts away from their evil deeds and choose to follow Jesus as their Savior, Lord, and Messiah so their sins could be "wiped away." Think about the implications of this forgiveness for you and me. If God forgave those who crucified his Son and then turned their hearts to Jesus, how much more will he also forgive, cleanse, and bless us!
O Father, how great is your love for us. We recognize that we do not deserve your love and cannot earn it. I do not understand how your heart can be so forgiving, but I am eternally grateful for such grace. You know the names of people on my heart — people I hold dear — who need to turn their hearts to Jesus. Please, dear LORD, be at work in their lives and draw them to your Son. I ask this in his name and for their sakes. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Acts 17:22-31
- 1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV
Other Devotionals from Heartlight for Sunday, February 20, 2022
About This Devotional
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.