In Acts 3:11-20, Peter explains to his audience that they should repent. In his explanation Peter uses three titles for Jesus and each of them helps us understand who Jesus is and what he did. Peter calls Jesus God’s servant (v. 13), the Holy and Righteous One (v. 14), and the Author of life (v. 15).
The role of servant reminds us of the willingness of the Son of God to become the servant of the Lord. Perhaps our minds have turned to Paul’s great words in Philippians 2:5-8, words that tell us the Son of God took on him the form of a servant in order to obey the will of the Father. His role as servant led him to the cross where he carried the awful weight of sin and paid its penalty in order that his people would go free.
In addition, the title ‘the Holy and Righteous One’ reminds us of the character of Jesus. Believers love to reflect on the sinlessness of Jesus, on the purity and perfection of his thoughts, words and deeds. He was the lamb without blemish, holy in mind and heart, ideal for the perfect sacrifice that God required in order to satisfy his justice.
And the title ‘Author of Life’ tells us that Jesus is the possessor of great power. It reminds us that he is the origin of all created life: ‘All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men’ (1 John 1:3-4). He is also the source of all spiritual life – every sinner that has been converted, whether before the coming of Jesus or since the coming, has obtained spiritual life from him. Further, the title assures us that Jesus is the source of all future life, the life of the ages to come which will combine physical and spiritual in order to give life suitable for the heavenly environment.
Yet Peter does introduce what seems to be a contradiction when he says that they killed the Author of Life. How could the Author of Life die? The answer to this question is found in why he became a righteous servant. He became a man without ceasing to be God. A great mystery indeed, but a wonderful reality. The Son of God could die in his human nature. Nevertheless, although he died, it was a voluntary act in which he dismissed his spirit. He entered into death, knowing that his Father would raise him from the dead.
So Peter told his audience who Jesus Christ is. He is the eternal Son of God who became a servant, lived a righteous life, died on the cross although he was innocent, and was raised again from the dead by God the Father. The Father has also glorified him, says Peter, which means that Jesus is now exalted to the throne of God, and therefore it was possible for miracles to take place by his apostles who trusted in him.
The context of this description of Jesus is connected to the Christian experience of repentance. So if we wish for deeper repentance, think about Jesus dealing with our sins.