PASTOR PETE takes the lead when Jesus leaves the planet.
As the writer of Acts tells it, Peter goes right into the Temple courtyard—the stomping ground of Jewish leaders who crucified Jesus a few weeks earlier—and he starts preaching that Jesus is the promised Messiah the Jews had been expecting.
He’s tells the Jewish leaders they crucified the Messiah.
Like that’s not going to get him in trouble.
Once a week I’m going to let you take a peek inside the new paraphrase of Acts—the story of how the church got started after Jesus died, rose from the dead, and then left the planet. It’s a beta edition, still getting proofed and polished for the Casual English Bible—a new Bible paraphrase especially for newcomers to the Bible.
Acts 3. Peter the healer and preacher
A lame man walks again
3:1. Peter and John were walking up to the Temple to attend the three o’clock afternoon prayer service.
3:2. That’s also when a man who had been born lame was getting into position to beg there. Some people were carrying him to the Temple entrance called “Beautiful Gate.” They put him there every day so he could beg from people coming and going to the Temple.
3:3. When he saw Peter and John heading into the Temple courtyard, he asked them for a charitable donation.
3:4. Peter looked hard into the man’s eyes. So did John. Peter said, “Take a good look at us.”
3:5. That’s what the man did. He gave them his full attention because he thought they were about to give him something.
3:6. Peter said, “I’ve got no silver. I’ve got no gold. But what I do have, I’m giving to you. Jesus Christ of Nazareth has given me the power and the authority to tell you this: Stand up and walk.”
3:7. Peter reached out, took the man by his right hand, and lifted him up. Instantly, the man’s feet and ankles became strong enough to hold him.
3:8. In fact, he could even jump. So he did. Then he walked right beside Peter and John as they went into the Temple. But this man did more than walk. He walked, jumped, and thanked God with all the praise he could muster.
3:9. All the people saw him walking and giving thanks to God.
3:10. They recognized him right away. They knew he was the man who always parked himself at the Beautiful Gate, where he begged for donations. So they were dumbfounded at what they were seeing here.
3:11. The man kept hugging Peter and John, staying close to them. All the people who saw what was going on rushed toward the three men to get a closer look. They crowded into the covered walkway called Solomon’s Porch. They were astounded at what they were seeing.
Peter preaches at the Temple
3:12. As Peter watched the crowd gather, he said, “Gentleman of Israel, what makes you think we did this? You look astonished. You stare at us as though we have the power or the extra helping of holiness to pull off a miracle like this.
3:13. Let me tell you something, the God of our founding fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has given his servant Jesus more glory than you could ever imagine—and you’re seeing the evidence of it now. You, however, gave Jesus an execution. You turned him over to Pilate who wanted to release him.
3:14. But you refused to let Pilate free this good man who devoted himself to God. Instead, you insisted that Pilate free a murderer.
3:15. People, you actually killed the Author of Life. Well, God raised him from the dead. We saw it with our own eyes.
3:16. We didn’t heal this man. Faith in Jesus healed him. This man is well and strong for one reason only: trust in Jesus. You see the results.
3:17. Brothers, you didn’t know any better when you became accessories to the execution of Jesus. Your leaders didn’t know any better, either.
3:18. Yet this is how God fulfilled prophecies about how Christ would suffer.
3:19. Turn away from sinful living. If you do that, God will forgive you and erase your sins.
3:20. Then, God’s presence in your life will reinvigorate you. In time, he’ll send the Messiah for you—Jesus.
3:21. Meanwhile, Jesus will stay in heaven until it’s time for God to restore his creation. The prophets spoke about this long ago.
3:22. Moses said, ‘The Lord your God is going to give you a prophet. Like me, that man will come from your own people. Whatever that man tells you to do, you need to do it.
3:23. Anyone who doesn’t do as told will become dead to us—no longer a part of us.’ 
3:24. From the time of Samuel, every prophet we’ve had has talked about what’s happening right now.
3:25. Gentlemen, you are the sons of these prophets. You are written into the contract agreement that God himself made with your ancestors. God told Abraham, ‘Your descendants are going to make this world a better place for everyone.’
3:26. Jesus has done just that. He’s the prophet Moses was talking about. God sent Jesus to you first, to make the world a better place for you. Jesus did this by teaching you to reject your sinful way of living.
 3:3. Literally, “alms.” Jews taught that God expected them to show compassion by giving money to the poor (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). The Jewish book of Tobit, written some 200 years or more before the time of Christ and included in many Christian Bibles, says: “Almsgiving delivers from death and keeps you from going into the Darkness. Indeed, almsgiving, for all who practice it, is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High” (4:10-11 NRSV).
 3:6. Literally, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”
 3:11. Also called Solomon’s Colonnade, this was an open-air walkway some 300 yards (274 m) long. It rested beneath a cedar roof supported by rows of columns. It became a popular meeting place because it offered shade from the sun and protection from rain.
 3:13. Bible experts debate the phrase that more literally says God “glorified his servant Jesus.” Some say that when Peter spoke about the glorification of Jesus, he was referring to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Others say he was talking about the healing that he and John had just performed, through the power of Jesus.
 3:22-23. Deuteronomy 18:15, 29; Leviticus 23:29.
 3:25. More literally, “Because of your seed [descendants], all families on the earth will be blessed.” This is a quotation from Genesis 22:18; 26:4.
ACTS 3 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- When the man who was born lame asked Peter and John for a handout, Peter said something that sounds odd: “Take a good look at us” (3:4). Why do you think he said that?
- When Peter told the lame man to stand up and walk, he said he got his power and authority to do that miracle from “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (3:6). Most Bible translations quote Peter invoking the name of Jesus in a way similar to this: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” (3:6 NLT). What do you think that phrase means: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”?
- When the lame man was suddenly able to walk and jump, what do you think the people thought about that? Do you think they were more inclined to believe it was a miracle than a con job by someone who had pretended to be lame?
- When Peter started preaching to the crowd he criticized them for helping execute Jesus. He said God did just the opposite: “God… has given his servant Jesus more glory than you could ever imagine” (3:13). What do you think Peter meant by God giving Jesus glory?
- After reading the highlights of Peter’s sermon, do you think you would have been convinced by what he said? Would you have become a believer on the basis of seeing the lame man healed and hearing Peter’s explanation for what was going on?
- Quoting his Jewish Bible, Peter reminded the crowd that God had said the descendants of Abraham were going to make the world a better place for everyone. Many Bible translations and paraphrases put it something like this, “Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed” (3:25 NLT). Do you think that promise was talking about Jesus, the Christian movement, or perhaps something else?
- LIFE APPLICATION. When we read the story of the lame beggar Peter and John helped, it reminds us of beggars we have seen in various places. Jewish law taught that Jews needed to help those people. From what you have seen, what’s the prevailing attitude people have today toward beggars?
- LIFE APPLICATION. God told Abraham, “Your descendants are going to make this world a better place for everyone” (3:25). Some Bible experts say this refers to Jesus and the Christian movement that followed. Do you agree? If so, in what way have Jesus and his followers made the world a better place