Faith That Makes Us Strong
Easter 3 - Acts 3:12-19
Tell your group that for the next few minutes, it’s “opposite day.” This will be a fun way to learn about how we don’t really feel about certain topics. Going around the circle, give each person a topic. They should react by telling you things that are exactly the opposite of what they think. If the members of your group don’t really know each other’s names, have each one introduce themself.
people who eat Tide Pods
2-week-old marshmallow peeps
dry erase markers
We are spending a few weeks discussing the very first Christians--the people who joined the Church after Jesus arose and ascended into Heaven. Did you know that the first group of believers in and around Jerusalem was known as the Way? (Acts 9:2, 19:23, and others) That may have been because Jesus refers to himself as “the way and the truth and the life” in John 14:6.
Anyhow, these early believers were passionate. They gave powerful testimonies about the resurrection of Jesus, they shared all of their possessions with one another, and they made sure that nobody among them was left being needy. And even though Jesus was no longer on Earth, miracles were still happening. In Acts 3:1-10, Peter heals a man who had never been able to walk. Peter says, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk,” and the man leaps right up and starts running around, praising God. As the people see this, they assume Peter has some sort of supernatural powers that have brought about this miracle, but Peter gives credit where it’s due.
Read Acts 3:12-19
What does Peter offer as an explanation for how this healing happened?
Why do you think it was important to Peter that this be clarified?
Peter knew very well that the power to heal came to him exclusively from God and that the authority to wield that power came only in the name of Jesus, his Lord and personal friend. Peter’s relationship with Jesus had grown stronger, and his faith, deeper, through many experiences. Sometimes he had placed his faith in Jesus and sometimes he tried relying on his own wisdom and strength.
Break your group into pairs or trios and assign each set one of these Scriptures. Ask them to study each passage to determine when Peter was relying on Jesus and when he was trying to make it on his own, and what the results were. They should be ready to share the story and their findings with the rest of the group.
- Matthew 14:22-31
- Matthew 16:13-23
- Luke 5:1-11
Of course, Peter’s greatest failure came on the night that Jesus was arrested. That evening at dinner, Jesus had said that all his friends would soon scatter and abandon him, but Peter insisted that he would never leave Jesus’ side. Jesus told Peter he would actually deny even knowing Jesus three times before morning, but Peter promised that if it came to it, he would die with Jesus.
Since Peter had already identified Jesus as the Son of God, why is he arguing with him?
What could make Peter think he can ignore what Jesus is saying and rely on his own wisdom and strength?
In what ways do we sometimes do the same thing?
We know what happened. Peter was questioned about his relationship with Jesus three different times, and he adamantly denied knowing Jesus each time. And Jesus was standing right there--Luke 22:61 says the two of them made eye contact. They hauled Jesus off and crucified him.
But Jesus came back from the dead. His is a story of glorious restoration--not just for himself, but for all those who seek forgiveness of their sins and an authentic relationship with him and come to rely on him rather than themselves. Peter had received this glorious restoration, and he now stood in a courtyard full of people after healing a lame man. He wanted everyone to know that his own power was meaningless, but Jesus’s power meant everything. He wanted everyone to know that he was forgiven and restored, and they could be, too. After all, he was just as complicit in the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus as anybody in the crowd.
What did Peter do to be complicit in the crucifixion of Jesus? Or, more to the point, what didn’t he do?
What do you think: If somebody is witnessing an injustice, they have a moral obligation to call it out, report it, or try to stop it?
What kind of injustices do you sometimes witness?
Have you ever acted against an injustice? What happened and what did you do?
Have you ever failed to act against an injustice? Why did you feel unable to act?
How can learning to rely on Jesus, rather than on our own strength, empower us to act against injustice?
What are some good ways to become more reliant upon Jesus?
Want to get active with this lesson? We have a great element called “Say What, Now?” that works great. You can get it at the Youth Worker Collective: youthworkercollective.com/say-what-now-a-fun-way-to-explore-acts-3
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