In Acts 2: 22-39 the words “see” and “hear” are used a lot. In verse 22, listen to what I say. In verse 25, quoting David, “I saw the Lord….” David again, “foreseeing….” In verse 32, the Israelites both “see and hear” what the Holy Spirit has poured out on the crowd.
There aren’t as many as I thought when I thought of this blog. But I think the evidence that Peter wants the Israelites to weigh to understand that Jesus is the Messiah includes what they have seen and heard directly. It reminds me, I think intentionally, of when Jesus in the Gospels is all but begging the disciples to see and to hear. If someone tells me that there are really zombies, but I know that I have not seen or heard them, nor do I know anyone else who has. There is no evidence. I can think that the person is just playing a game, but I can’t take what they say seriously. Right?
For the Israelites in the crowd, the ones Peter wants to listen, they have been sensible. They have heard reports of this Jesus, of his deeds of powder, wonders, and signs, they perhaps even saw healings that he worked with their own eyes. But they felt they could not trust what they saw or heard. They knew the world didn’t work that way. Or they feared trouble or disappointment. For whatever reason, they have not believed. Now, says Peter, it is not too late. You don’t have stay in your rut of disbelief. You can change.
Again, I seriously think that Peter isn’t yelling at the crowd or browbeating them, or anything like that. I think he is trying to work out a logic for them to hold on to, and thus join in believing. And I think part of that is insisting that they weigh what they know, what they have seen and heard. He isn’t talking to them about blind faith. He’s giving them some dense things: what they see and hear, what David in his role as a prophet saw and heard and did. What witnesses have seen. What is factual — our ancestor David is dead and his tomb is with us. What is factual — God raised this man Jesus up. “We are all witnesses.” (It is different for us, isn’t it, two thousand years later? or is it the same?)
And Peter is giving them the gift of being able to change their minds.