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A paralyzed man was jumping around in the temple area overjoyed, and a curiosity crowd was gathering around Peter who just cured the man. Peter needed to redirect the attention from himself back to Christ. This is how he did it. He told the crowd, “You all denied Christ. You denied Him of a fair trial by handing Him over to Pilate. And you denied Him again when you chose Barabbas.” As you are listening to Peter’s accusations you begin to think, “Wait a minute, Peter denied Christ as well. In fact, he denied Christ three times.” And that is the point. Peter is saying to the crowd, “I am no better than you. I denied Him just like you. But look at what I can do because of Christ. Christ can transform you as well if you turn to Him. God favors you as just as much as He did me. Yes, I was like you, but now you can do great things for others in Christ’s name.
One day I had to visit someone in the hospital. I drove around the parking garage, and it was filled. Finally, I saw a woman at her car with a baby carriage, and I thought, “I will wait here and take her spot when she leaves.” She unstrapped the one-year-old and placed him in a safety seat in the car. There were shoulder straps, hip straps, and many adjustment features. She then had to fold up the baby carriage which was a rather involved task. As she was putting the carriage in the trunk the baby started to cry, so she took out a large bag and looked around until she found something to give to her child. Then she had a conversation with the one-year-old. Of course, this took a lot of time. And I waited, and while I was waiting, I began to wonder if this child was old enough to know and appreciate that someone was crazy about him. Did this child have any idea that there was someone always watching out for him, caring for him, and making sacrifices for him? With all of this care, the mother hopes that one day the child will become someone special and make a difference in the world. That is what Peter is saying in his speech. Are we like this child, unconscious that there is Someone up there Who is watching out for us, caring for us, and making sacrifices for us so that we can be able to be someone special for others?
I was invited to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We left the hotel on the first day to board the bus. As we were waiting for the others to come, vendors approached us selling postcards. I appreciated the opportunity to purchase a few early on in the trip so I could send them out. So I started to look at the options, and figure out which card will go to what person. Our director got impatient with us and yelled, “Everyone on the bus. We can buy them later.” When we were all on the bus someone jumped to his feet and cried out, “It’s gone. My passport is gone. I had it in my pocket.” The bus driver sighed and walked off the bus to address the vendors. There was a little litigation outside with one of the vendors and sure enough, after about a minute, the bus driver re-entered the bus holding the passport. Apparently, while we were looking at the postcards, thieves were going into our pockets looking for valuables. Our bus driver stood up and said, “Okay, everyone, listen up. If you are carrying something valuable, make sure you never take your hand or your mind off of it. Otherwise, you will lose it.” We went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I had my left hand on the wall with my head tilted down. I was deep in prayer. During this memorable moment, you better believe that my other hand was inside my pocket holding my wallet.
There are a lot of distractions in life. There are ups and downs. It is easy to forget the most important matters. If anyone appreciates Christ, it is Peter. He knew what it is to deny Christ, and knows what it is to be redeemed and transformed by him. Never forget that.Back to All Homilies