Today we see Peter carry on his address from 3.11-16 and he begins by referencing the great sin of God’s people, but with love:
“And now, brothers, I know you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did too. But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets—that his Christ would suffer—he has fulfilled in this way”.
(Acts 3.17-18, NET)
Whilst most of the people calling for the crucifixion of Jesus did not know that He was the Christ, the Messiah, the appointed and anointed of God, He was. Peter frames the great sin of causing the Christ to suffer as a sin of ignorance (cf. Leviticus 5.17). He says that the people need to turn away from the things that they now know they were wrong about, repent, that their sins may be blotted out.
Peter then makes a connection that the Jews present in the temple would have appreciated: that Moses spoke prophetically about the coming of the Messiah, of Jesus. He said that
“Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must obey him in everything he tells you. Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed and thus removed from the people.’ And all the prophets, from Samuel and those who followed him, have spoken about and announced these days.“
(Acts 3.22-25, NET)
Framing their great sin as a sin of ignorance was done in love (really they ought to have known Jesus was the Messiah), and connecting the Christ to someone so respected in their mind was smart. Peter has built a case for Jesus as the prophet, the Messiah, the appointed and anointed. Underscoring the people’s personal connection to all that has happened, and reinforcing their need to repent and have their sins forgiven he finishes with this:
“God raised up his servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each one of you from your iniquities.”
(Acts 3.26, NET, emphasis added)
We are not the Jews present in the portico called Solomon’s, being spoke to here by Peter, are we? God didn’t send Jesus to us first. We are not the guardians and recipients of the Old Testament Scriptures. But, as Paul writes, no longer does the ethnicity, culture, lineage, or nationality of a person matter when salvation is concerned, when sins are able to be forgiven:
“…I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
(Romans 1.16, NET)
Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, because of His death and resurrection, Gentiles (non Jews, the Greek as Paul writes) can claim the same promises that Peter was exhorting the Jews present in the temple to avail. For you and for me, we can be blessed and we can have sins forgiven, and it is by the same method as the Jews present in Acts 3.17-26: by turning in faith to Jesus as Messiah, as Lord, as the Christ, as God’s appointed and anointed (vv.19-20).