This morning we continue our look at the book of Acts – specifically today we are in Acts chapter 3. And if you haven’t been with us for the last two chapters, there are basically three key things that have happened in the story so far:
- After his resurrection, Jesus ascended to Heaven and commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses throughout the world.
- Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell his disciples and every believer – just as he had promised earlier – empowering them to boldly share about Christ where ever they went.
- As the disciples shared the message of Christ, more & more people accepted their message, trusted in Jesus, and the early church began to take shape.
In fact, when we last left off, the church had just exploded in growth as 3000 people were added to the church as the result of Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost. Acts chapter 2 describes it like this:
41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
Now when we went through this passage in chapter 2 a couple weeks ago, we talked mostly about how the believers were devoted to God and devoted to each other. But we didn’t really spend much time on verse 43, which says “A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” But this, too, is an important verse.
This verse points out how God affirmed the Apostles’ message & authority by enabling them to perform miraculous signs and wonders – very much like the signs and wonders that Jesus performed during his ministry on earth or even like the prophets of old – such as Moses, Elisha and Elijah.
These signs and wonders not only gave credibility to their message – but it also provided for them many opportunities to share their message with the people who witnessed these amazing miracles!
And that’s what we’re going to see today. Today, chapter 3 gives us a specific example of the signs and wonders that Peter & John were performing and how they used that as an opportunity to preach about Christ.
So we are going to start in Acts chapter 3, verse 1.
Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Acts 3:1-3
And we’ll pause here for a minute. So far, this is a pretty normal day for everyone involved.
First of all, we see Peter and John going to the temple for prayer. As we’re already seen in our study of Acts, prayer was a central & regular part of their lives. According to Acts 2:46, all the believers met to worshiped together at the Temple each day! So for Peter & John to go to the temple for prayer wasn’t unusual. It was just another normal day for them.
Secondly, we see a lame man being carried to the temple gate so that he could beg from people going into the temple. That wasn’t unusual either. Giving to the poor was an important part of Jewish worship – it was a key way to express their devotion to God. So if you’re one of the poor, what better place to put yourself, then at the entrance to the temple! I imagine every beggar in Jerusalem wanted that prime location. But apparently, this lame man had claim to this particular spot because as verse 2 tells us “Each day he was put beside the Temple gate so that he could beg from people going in.”
We actually learn in the next chapter that this man was 40 years old by this point – and since he had been lame since birth, that’s 40 years of begging, and so perhaps by now he had seniority among his fellow beggars and had thus secured this prime location.
But however it happened, this man came to beg today just like he did every other day. Again, just another regular day for everyone involved.
But little did he know that today was going to be unlike any other day he had ever experienced!
3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.
4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
Now this was unusual! I imagine this beggar had two regular experiences as he begged for money. I expect that people either threw him a few coins out of compassion and sympathy, or they just out-right ignored him. And I would guess the ignoring part happened much more often than the compassion and sympathy part.
You’ll notice that this man didn’t even try to make eye contact with Peter & John at first. Peter had to say to him “Look at us!” I imagine this man was use to being ignored. Every day this man begged at the temple gate. Every day he asked the temple-goers for a few coins to buy his bread. And every day he would have been largely ignored and over looked. So I imagine it got to the point, where this man didn’t even bother to look up at the people as he asked them for money.
But today was different. Today, as these two fellows walked into the temple, he asked them for some money (as usual), But this time, they stopped, looked at him intently, and said “Look at us!” And so the lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money.
But then, Peter says this: “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
What!? Can you imagine what this lame beggar thought at that moment?! He had been lame from birth. He had never walked a single day in his life! And now, these two guys tell him, “We’re not going to give you any gold or silver. Instead, In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
Was this just some kind of cruel joke or what? If I was that lame man, I don’t know if I would have laughed at their crazy suggestion or gotten angry at their heartless cruelty to suggest such a thing.
But then again, if this man had been begging at the temple each day for the last 40 years, it was very possible that he knew all about this Jesus Christ the Nazarene fellow. Jesus had often visited the temple and had a reputation for doing some amazing things. In fact, Matthew tells us that Jesus had healed people in that very same location just a few months earlier! Matthew 21:14 says that shortly after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem…
“The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14
Perhaps this man had heard about that? Perhaps this man even personally knew some of those people who had been healed!? Perhaps this man was even there that day, but because of his lameness, just couldn’t get to Jesus to be healed!?
Perhaps this wasn’t such a crazy suggestion by Peter after all! Maybe this really was his opportunity to be healed in Jesus’ name – to get up and walk! And of course, we don’t know the whole backstory, or what this lame man was thinking, but we do know what happened next.
Verse 7 says…
7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk!
What an incredible miracle! Can you imagine the joy and elation that this man would’ve felt – being able to walk for the very first time ever?
This moment would completely change the course of his life! He didn’t even have to learn to walk or go through intensive physiotherapy – his feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthen! He immediately jumped up, stood on his feet and began to walk. And in fact, he didn’t stop there. Verse 8 continues…
Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.
9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. Acts 3:8b-9
As you can imagine, this man was not quietly contemplating what God had done for him – He was jumping and shouting and praising God! He was not trying to keep it on the down-low. Verse 9 says ALL the people saw him walking and ALL the people heard him praising God!
He was causing quite a stir – and rightly so! God had done something incredible in his life! And so as he walked and jumped and praised the Lord, everyone took notice!
9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John. Acts 3:9-11
So now, much like on the day of Pentecost, a large crowd was gathering around because of an amazing miracle that God had done – and Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, sees this as another opportunity to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ! Verse 12.
12 Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? 13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. 14 You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!
16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.
17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. 21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’ 23 Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’
24 “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. 25 You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”
So as we see, once again, Peter clearly preaches the Gospel to the crowds who had gathered. That Jesus is the Messiah sent from God, that he died and rose again from the grave just as all the prophets foretold, and that there is forgiveness and eternal blessing for all who put their faith in the name of Jesus and repent of their sins!
And like most sermons, Peter’s sermon on that day had mixed reviews. There were those who accepted his message and took it to heart – and there were those who rejected his message and actually went on to put Peter & John in jail! Take a look at the first few verses of chapter 4…
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. 2 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. 3 They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. 4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000.
We’ll continue the story in a couple weeks and see what becomes of Peter & John in prison, but for now I just wanted to point out that roughly about another 2,000 accepted the Lord that day – taking the grand total of the church to about 5,000 people now.
The Holy Spirit was clearly at work, not only in the life of this lame man, but also in the lives of these other 2,000 people. And that leads me to the two take-away points for this morning’s message.
There are two things that we can see in this passage and and if you look closely, I think you can probably see them in your own life as well.
So here are two things I want you to notice:
I want you to notice….
#1. The Sovereignty of God.
I find it amazing that God had been preparing this lame man for 40 years for this very day. Even from before this man was born, God was at work – allowing him to be formed in his mother’s womb and born unable to walk. And I can’t imagine how many times that man must have cried out to God asking WHY? Why did you make this way? Why can’t I have a normal life and be like all the other people? Why won’t you healed me?
And especially as he saw Jesus going around healing others – maybe even some of his friends. “What about me, God? Why heal them and not me?”
But yet, God had a plan all along. God was going to do something amazing that would bring not only restoration and healing to this man – but would also play a part in saving 2,000 other people from an eternity of suffering – separated from God. I’m sure the lame man never would have guessed it, but his 40 years of suffering was all part of God’s plan to bring about an eternity of joy for thousands of people!
And so all these events didn’t just randomly unfold that day – God had it all planned out! God’s sovereignty was made clearly evident that day.
And that’s such an encouragement to us, especially as we go through our own seasons of difficulty and hardships. We don’t always understand why God does or doesn’t do certain things in our lives – but we can know that God is always working out His sovereign plan. Ephesians 1:4 says…
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
This is an amazing passage, but of course, we don’t always see all the evidence of that, do we? Even though we know that God chose us and loved us from before time began – it’s hard to see the kindness of God when we’ve been a lame beggar for 40 years, isn’t it? When we suffer, when we struggle, when we are hurt – it’s hard to see the goodness of God. It’s hard to understand his sovereignty.
But that doesn’t make it any less true – any less real. We may have to go through 40 years of being a lame beggar. We may have to lose a job or lose a friend. We may have to endure rejection, persecution, suffering and pain.
But its important to remember that none of that is outside the scope of God’s plan. None of it is pointless. Even the evil that happens in our lives is not beyond the redemptive plan of God. Of course, God doesn’t cause the evil, but he will certainly take it and in some amazing way, use it for our good and his glory. It may not make sense to us in the moment, but that’s ok – because it makes total sense to God. Romans 11:33 says..
33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
34 For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to give him advice?
35 And who has given him so much
that he needs to pay it back?
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
When we don’t understand why God allows certain things in our lives, all we need to do – and really, all we can do – is simply to trust God. Trust in his power. Trust in his goodness. Trust in his wisdom. Trust in his sovereignty.
That’s the first thing to notice in this passage and in your life – notice the sovereignty of God.
The second thing I want you to notice in this passage and in your life is that:
#2. Healing Comes Through Faith in the Name of Jesus
Look what Peter says in verse 16.
16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.
There are two types of healing that we saw in today passage. First and most obviously, there was the physical healing of the lame man. But also, there was a spiritual healing that happened for those 2000 people who accepted Christ. And both healings came through faith in the name of Jesus, so I want to quickly address both types of healing.
Let me begin by clarifying that I’m not preaching a ‘name-it & claim-it’ Gospel. I don’t believe that God has given us the right and privilege to be instantly healed of all our infirmities simply by praying in his Name. As we just talked about, sometimes God has an incredible plan for our lives that includes suffering and sickness! If God did not spare Jesus from the cross, I don’t think we should expect God so spare us from all our suffering either!
That being said, there are times when God does heal us – as we just saw with the lame man in this story. And in fact, God invites us to ask for healing! James 5:14 says..
14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. James 5:14-15
Now this verse is not saying we have the inalienable right to instant healing whenever we so desire. This isn’t a magic formula for guaranteed healing and restoration. But rather, it’s an invitation for us to put our faith and trust in God – asking Him in the name of His Son Jesus for healing and restoration. We are to trust that God has the power to heal us if He so desires – and when He does, we are to accept that as a wonderful gift from the Lord.
But we are also to trust that God may chose not to heal us at this time if that’s what He so desires. We are to trust that even if he doesn’t heal us that He is still able, still good, and still sovereign. Both being healed and not being healed requires us to trust God.
And that leads us into the real issue – and that is our need for spiritual healing – our need for a restored relationship with our Creator. And like Peter says, that healing is also found only through faith in the name of Jesus.
Just a little later on in chapter 4, Peter would boldly state to the religious leaders after spending the night in jail…
10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he [the lame beggar] was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
And that is the message of the Gospel. We will not find salvation in the name of Buddha or in the name of Mohammad or in the name of any other person. There is only one man who is the Son of God who died and rose again so that you can be forgiven and have eternal life – and his name is Jesus Christ the Nazarene.
Salvation is found only through faith in His name!
Can I encourage you, that if you are hearing all this for the first time today – or if for some reason, today it’s finally sinking in and starting to make sense – can I encourage you to choose today to put your faith in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene for forgiveness and eternal life.
God wants to bring incredible healing to your life – and first and foremost He wants to bring healing in your relationship with Him.
Physically healing that lame beggar was a miracle – no doubt – but the greater miracle was 2000 people who gained salvation that day. Through faith in Jesus, their relationship with God was restored, their sin and guilt was removed, and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit – God’s presence within them for all time – and God gave them a peace and joy like they had never had before.
And doesn’t that sound like something you want? Don’t you want to know real joy? Real peace? Don’t you want to know that you have a right relationship with the God of heaven? Don’t you want to have all your guilt removed and your conscience wiped clean?
You can have that today. Real healing is available to you right now – through faith in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene.