After Peter healed a lame beggar in Solomon’s portico, he preached to the astounded crowds the miracle gathered. His message must have pierced their hearts, for over and over he emphasized their responsibility for Christ’s death. YOU deliver him to Pilate. YOU denied the Holy and Righteous One. YOU requested Pilate release a murderer instead of Christ. YOU killed the Author of life. The crowd must have been shattered at the realization of their guilt before God.
But then, holding out hope to them, he said, “And now brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance” (Acts 3.17). This didn’t mean they were any less guilty, but pointed to the mercy and long-suffering nature of God. They killed his son, yet God focused on their ignorance.
Peter’s words echo the Christ’s from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Though murdering an innocent man they didn’t realize the depth of their sin in crucifying God’s Son, and based on their ignorance Jesus pleaded for mercy.
Paul too experienced God’s mercy toward his ignorance: “though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent…I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1 TI 1.13).
I’m so grateful the Lord is so merciful and patient with us in our IGNORANCE!
He was patient with me for years as I lived in rebellion against him. I didn’t consciously say, “I’m going to rebel against God,” or, “I hate God and willfully reject him.” But I did reject him, repeatedly. I did many things I knew were wrong, and many I didn’t know were wrong. But Jesus was merciful to me in my ignorance.
Even as a Christian I still sin in ignorance and fail to do all the good I should. What mercy God shows me.
I must be patient and forbearing with others. Maybe they didn’t mean that comment to be offensive. Maybe they’re just having an off day. Maybe they’re under a lot of pressure and didn’t mean to snap at me. Maybe they misunderstood me.
If God overlooks my sins of ignorance, should I not overlook the sins others commit in ignorance?