Acts 3 describes the healing of a crippled beggar. We’re not sure how long after Pentecost this happened.
This chapter also describes the preaching of the gospel in the temple in Jerusalem by Peter and John. It shows how they preached.
John is mentioned, but not “active” in the story. Why? Perhaps because of a legal purpose (they were witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection – in Deut. it says that one witness is not enough for any conviction. For example, one person might be angry and accuse someone – it’s less likely with two. They needed at least two people to witness an event).
Acts is a story of two apostles – Peter and Paul – the emphasis is on these two.
It was the hour of prayer. There were three times for prayer in the temple: 9:00, 12:00, 3:00. The morning and evening prayer coincided with the sacrifices they offered. These were very important to the Jews.
Josephus – Jewish/Roman War – though starving, they continued the practice of the morning and evening sacrifices.
This event shows that the Jewish disciples continued to follow the Jewish forms of worship and customs. They stayed at the heart of Jewish national life where they could reach people with the gospel message.
Many miraculous signs and wonders were performed by the disciples – they had the same HS that had descended on Jesus. That same power was in and on the apostles. Demons were cast out, people were healed.
Not only the apostles, even the deacons – anyone filled with the spirit – did them. Jesus had proclaimed that truth ( “and even greater things than these” ) but Peter didn’t get the glory, Jesus did (does).
The healing of the beggar = one of these signs.
The beggar (crippled from birth) asked daily for alms (gifts of money). The Jews believed that they were given merit (credit in heaven) for giving money to the poor.
Nobody knows which gate is called “Beautiful.” It’s not mentioned in the Talmud (commentary on the Bible), nor by Josephus. But, regardless, it was a “beautiful” gate for the beggar.
Peter and John approached and the beggar asked for money. Peter said, “Look at us” and wanted his full attention. He said, “I’ll give what I have. In the name of Jesus, walk.” Instantly, his feet and ankles became strong.
- He’d asked for alms, but got feet.
- He’d asked for a handout, but got a hand up.
- He’d asked for charity, but got clarity regarding Jesus’ name and the power.
Luke (the doc) piles on details. ( “His feet and ankles became strong, he walked, he leaped!” ) He walked and leaped into the temple and praised God. All the people recognized him as the beggar. They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened. (AWEsome, really).
This was a similar miracle to one Jesus had performed earlier in Capernaum – lowering their friend through the roof of the house – through a trap door in the roof.
Can you imagine this happening? The roof coming off and a guy coming down. Jesus said, “Cheer up! Your sins are forgiven!” He was probably in a pretty serious situation – ill, concerned about his sins. Jesus took away his sins. The Pharisees had come to listen and when they heard this…SCANDAL! “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Actually, in the OT, a Levitical priest could SAY “Your sins are forgiven, by God” if they sacrificed and made penitence for his sins.)
But here, the Pharisees knew he wasn’t a Levite, so he said, “Why do you think evil? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Rise up and walk.’”
Talk is cheap. You can SAY “your sins are forgiven” and there’s no real PROOF of such. SO, Jesus told him to rise and walk – and he did. This demonstrated his power and his ability to (truthfully) say “your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus dealt FIRST with the primary matter, the heart. Before healing the body, he healed his soul. The man would later die anyway, but Jesus forgave his sins first.
All men eventually die – even Lazarus – raised by Jesus from death.
The primary thing: your heart, your sins.
If we get the bonus of physical healing as well, wonderful! (But we shouldn’t expect that first.)
A prophecy said “the lame will rise up and walk” and here this was fulfilled.
Also healings could be given and received by ordinary humans who had faith in Jesus’ name.
So, many people immediately came rushing to Solomon’s Colonnade (it ran around the outer court – the court of the Gentiles). It was here that the teachers relaxed and talked, the merchants sold things and exchanged money.
Jesus had also been here when he was a boy. He was left behind by his parents at age 12 and when they found him later, he was in this Colonnade.
It was also in that place that he drove out the money changers. There was obviously a lot of dirty dealing going on down there – cheating, etc. He drove them out saying, “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer, but you’ve made it a den of thieves.”
Now, Peter gets a chance to preach the gospel here (it’s similar to what he said at Pentecost). He focuses on Jesus, particularly as the “suffering servant” (Isaiah). He also says that Jesus is the prophet that was raised up like Moses (if the people didn’t give heed to him, they would be cut off). This sermon gives further teaching about the person of Jesus. He is God’s son, the Author of Life, and the prophet like Moses.
Peter also stressed the rejection of Jesus by the Jews and God’s vindication (removable of criminal charges) of him. Thus, God’s vindication of Jesus proves he is the Messiah and sits at God’s right hand.
Peter again calls for repentance. Change of heart/mind. A new Age had dawned with the giving of the HS.
He also deals with the surprise of the onlookers. It was important that they understood where the healing power came from. “Men of Israel, why do you stare at us, as if by our own power we made him walk?” People were staring with their eyes wide and jaws dropped. Then, he gives his solution, Jesus is the one God has glorified – the God of our Fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This is also how God revealed himself to Moses “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
By the time of the NT, this phrase connected the glory of ancient Israel to the idea of the nation of Israel as God’s remnant chosen people.
When Jesus was discussing this with the Saduccees, he mentioned this phrase. He emphasizes the present tense in this case ( “I AM the God…” ).
God has glorified his servant Jesus. Peter emphasizes the “suffering servant” that is prophesied about in Isaiah. Acts 3:26 “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Also in Acts 4 – he is referred to as God’s servant.
Though the word servant is only found in a few texts, the whole concept of the suffering servant is throughout the NT. Matthew ?:6-17 “When evening came, people brought their sick to him and he healed them – this was to fulfill that in Isaiah, ‘for he took up our iniquities…’”
Also in Matthew 12:18-21, “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen…I will put my spirit on him and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not cry out and no one will hear his voice in the streets.”
Perhaps this refers to how LOUD the attention-seeking Pharisees were when they were in the streets.
Jesus usually said, “Shh, don’t tell anyone I healed you, just go to the temple.” But they usually told anyway…
- “…a bruised reed he will not break…” Jesus won’t break those who are concerned or depressed with their own lives/sins. Also, reeds were made into flutes and if damaged, would be thrown away. But Jesus wouldn’t thrown them away, he’d heal them
- “…a smoldering wick…” This is a bad aroma – sometimes the things we do give a bad aroma to God – but Jesus wants to bring those things back to life, to wonderful smells.
- “…the Gentiles will put their hope in him…”
Where is your hope?
John Lennox – often debates atheists and carries a Gideon’s Bible. He was reading it and a scientist across from him on the train said, “what do you do?” (He’s a scientist at Oxford, teaching math.) The man said, “You can’t explain the Bible, why do you read it?” Lennox said, “Explain consciousness.” (We can’t. We know it’s there, but can’t explain it.) Lennox said, “What hope do you have?” The man had none, but Lennox (and all Christians) have great hope.
Now remember that when Jesus was crucified, the Jews had asked for Barabas to be released (he was a rebel/murderer). And they’d cried out to “Crucify Jesus!” So the criminal went free, and the innocent man was crucified.
Jesus took the place for Barabas first.
He said he was the “son of God” and that made people pretty upset.
We’ve all sinned like Barabas (maybe not the same sins) so we are part of Barabas’ identity. Jesus took his place (our place) on the executioner’s block.
Peter said that the Jews had disowned and killed the Author of Life. But in Jesus IS Life. Jesus said, “I give to them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand.”
He is the leader/pioneer – the firstborn of the dead. Romans “For those that God preknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
Greek arcaegos = pioneer.
On a ship, if the ship was sinking, this man would swim with a lifeline to shore and attach it to something. He would then return to the ship and help others across. Jesus does this for us.
In his sermon, Peter proclaimed that they were witnesses to Jesus. He was the Author of Life, the Holy One, the Beautiful One.
Can you imagine the beggar’s experience? One day, suddenly (over 40), he was transformed. On this particular day, he was performed. It was by faith that he was healed – in who? He probably didn’t even think about healing until it happened. Probably it was Peter’s faith that caused it.
We all are like this. Crippled in our sin. But one day, the gospel hits home, God grants us faith and repentance, and our whole lives are transformed overnight.
Jesus was beaten and marred and disfigured beyond any man, beyond description.
It’s like a man who was walking along a street and saw a picture of Jesus in a window. A boy came as well and said, “Jesus was crucified for our sins.” The man continued along and found a tugging on his coattails. “Oh, I forgot to tell you sir. He rose again!” That makes all the difference.
Like the hymn says, “Crown him, crown him…”
Let’s celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus as we take Communion today.