But God

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses to this fact.” Acts 3:15

After God heals (through his servants Peter and John) a crippled beggar, Peter starts to preach. Acts 3:12 states that Peter was seizing the opportunity as this healing has captured the attention of the people as they stood in wonder and amazement at this crippled man (who they knew well) got up and walked. 

Peter starts off asking why they are so surprised. After all, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their God, has always been a god of power. He still is.

It doesn’t take Peter long to get to the event in history that showed his ultimate power. Raising Jesus from the dead. Conquering sin and death.

The “but God” (in 3:15) does it again. Peter shows that God took the worst imaginable event (men, killing the author of the very air they breathe, the life that runs through their veins) to accomplish the most amazing never-to-be-repeated event ever (the resurrection of Jesus to conquer sin and death).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary adds interesting insight to this passage…

“Peter emphasized with sledgehammer effect three contradictions in the people’s conduct (3:13–15). First, he said the Jews demanded Christ’s death when Pilate … had decided to let Him go. Second, the Jews disowned the Holy and Righteous One and demanded the release of a murderer. Third, Israel killed the Author of life but God raised Him from the dead. Peter’s titles of Christ are interesting: “His Servant Jesus,” “the Holy and Righteous One” (cf. Heb. 7:26), and “the Author of life” (cf. John 10:10). In the third title the irony is strong: they killed the Author of life but He was raised to life from the dead!”

Peter shows the lengths that the people went to get what they wanted (to remove Jesus). They demanded what the authorities had already decided wasn’t just (going against Pilate’s conscience). They disowned the Messiah, the promised one, and traded him for a murderer who they honored more. Then, they killed the one who gave them life. They put to death the very one who was the source of life itself.

The two words, “but God” show up in pivotal moments in Scripture. From Genesis to 1 Samuel and Acts to Ephesians, almost every time the phrase occurs, it is to signal a change of scene. And each time, it is God stepping into the picture to powerfully upend a messed-up world again.

James Montgomery Boice wrote that “If you understand those two words—’but God’—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.”

When reading through the Word, as I come across these moments of God turning the story around by intervening with his grace, mercy, and power, it brings great encouragement for sure.

In life, when I can set my mind on God, knowing that he does intervene, it also brings me hope. The hardest though is when it hasn’t come yet. When the mess surrounds you, and the “but” is still ahead. Sure, I can say it as though it will happen in the future or that God is at work behind the scenes. That’s what I have to say. It’s still hard though, on this side of the “but God”, wondering when, how, where, if…

Over and over though, God speaks to me through his word. He is the same today. He has the same power. He shows up the same way. The grace and mercy that is available to me never changes. He is for me.

In that understanding though, is the element of faith. Faith that God is at work. Faith that, even if I never see the results that I expect, God is on the throne ruling with power, love, mercy, and justice. God will always bring order to chaos, but the way that he goes about that is up to him (rather than my preference of it being up to me). 
Jospeh knew it. Noah was aware of it. Moses lived it. David sang about it. Paul declared it (over and over). God enters the darkest moments and shines the brightest of lights into them. 

I don’t say that lightly. I don’t say that glibly. I don’t say that as a blanket promise that every problem just floats away, that every trial is lifted, that every pain and all the grieving is alleviated when we say the “right” words. No, God doesn’t work that way. We want him to, but do we really? Wouldn’t we miss out on deep fellowship with him and knowing him in his sufferings if everything was as easy as flipping the switch in a dark room?

Risen Lord, you have power over all things. Yet with that power, you have the perfect wisdom to know how and when to use it. Lord, thank you that your power is given in the perfect amounts, even when it is just enough to get me through the next five minutes.

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