As we have already seen, at Peter’s arrest he did not merely try to defend himself. He used the opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ. There were four points to his sermon. We have already looked in detail at the first two points: 1) their guilt in crucifying Jesus, and 2) the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. In today’s study we continue with the second two.
3. The purpose of God was established in spite of their opposition: “the stone you builders rejected… has become the capstone” (v. 11; quoted from Ps. 118:22). When Luke quotes from the Old Testament, as he does here, he almost invariably quotes from the Septuagint, the translation of the Old Testament used among Greek-speaking people. Luke was writing to Greek-speaking people, so he used the Septuagint. But in quoting from the Septuagint at this point Luke varied the quotation slightly, adding the word “you.” The Septuagint says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” But Luke changes it to say, “The stone you builders rejected…” Why? Undoubtedly because that is the way Peter spoke it. Peter added the word “you” to reinforce what he had been teaching. He had spoken of the leaders’ guilt. Now he takes an impersonal Old Testament text and makes it pointed.
Not only that. He also says, but God made him “the capstone.” In other words, as he had said earlier, “God raised [Jesus of Nazareth] from the dead.” There are lots of things about the Gospel that the world does not like. It does not like to hear about human guilt. Nobody likes to feel guilty. It does not like to hear about the resurrection. But of all the things the world does not like, probably the greatest is that God always accomplishes what He wants in spite of our opposition.
But God does accomplish it. He is going to accomplish it with you. You may fight Him to the end. But in the end, it will be His will rather than yours that will be done. We do not like that, because the essence of sin is thinking and saying, “I can do without God. I can resist God. I do not have to do what God wants.” Unfortunately for that point of view, we are not our own masters. We are not autonomous. We are God’s creatures. Therefore, in the final analysis it is always the purposes of God and not ours that will be established.
4. Jesus is the one and only way of salvation: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (v. 12). Oh, how the world hates that! If you want to be laughed at, scorned, hated, even persecuted, testify to the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. Say that Jesus is the only Savior, that only by believing in Him can one escape hell. The world will fight you to the death if you do that, because nothing is so offensive to the natural man as teaching that we cannot save ourselves, that we cannot choose our own way of salvation and that, if we are going to be saved, it must be by God and the way which He has appointed, namely, by the death of Jesus Christ.
Why did Peter insist on this? He was an intelligent man. He knew he was saying these things at the risk of his life. He was saying it because of whom he knew Jesus Christ to be. The reason why Jesus is the only name by which a person can be saved is that there is nobody else like Jesus Christ. There is no man who is God except Jesus, no one who could die for the sins of others. Nobody but Jesus could do that. That is why Peter could proclaim Him fearlessly.
You may say, “But that sounds so exclusive and narrow.” Yes, it is exclusive and narrow.
“But it sounds intolerant.” Yes, in a sense it is intolerant. But it is also true. And any man or woman who turns his back on what is true is simply foolish.
What needs to happen to you is what happened to the cripple, which I mention here simply because there is a connection between his healing and this story. When the authorities began to interrogate Peter and John, they said, “By what power or what name did you do this?” They answered, “Jesus.” That was correct. But when Peter got to the end and summed it all up, he threw their question right back at them and said, in effect, “And it is not only by the name of Jesus that the crippled man was healed. That name is the only name by which anyone can be healed.” You, too, must be saved by Jesus.
Everett F. Harrison had it exactly right when he wrote, “Salvation was the supreme concern of this prince of apostles (Acts 2:40; 5:31; 15:11; cf. 1 Peter 1:5, 9, 10). It is found exclusively in Christ and ‘no one else,’ and it is an imperative need for sinful men (they ‘must be saved’). What had happened to the physical condition of the cripple, in that he had been made whole (literally, saved), was a parable for the healing of the whole man by the power of Christ.”1 As Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (v. 12).
In your sin you are as helpless in the sight of God as that cripple. You cannot save yourself. Only Jesus can heal you. You need to believe that and place all your faith in Jesus Christ, the only Savior.
1Everett F. Harrison, Acts: The Expanding Church (Chicago: Moody, 1975), 84.