Last week in chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles we saw the impartation of the Holy Spirit come upon the followers of Christ. We heard about Peter’s first sermon and that it was so powerful 3000 believers were added to the church that day. We also looked at how the church began.
Initially the followers of Jesus regularly gathered in the temple and still followed Jewish rituals and worship protocol. Which was fitting for Christianity began as a form of contemporary Judaism that accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
However, the beginning stages of the church’s separation are recorded in Acts when Christian leaders such as Peter and Paul continued to boldly proclaim Christ as the Messiah. And eventually they began meeting in each other’s homes when the full and final split between Judaism and Christianity took place by the time of the 1st Jewish revolt from Rome in 66-70 A.D. They were no longer welcome in the temple as believers in Jesus.
And just as a reminder. At least part of the reason why the Jewish people did not believe Jesus was the long awaited and promised Messiah was because they thought the Messiah was going to be a great military leader and free them from Roman occupation. And yes, Jesus did indeed come to set them from, just not from the Romans. He came to set them free from sin. He came to set us all free from sin.
We discussed the 4 primary components that made up each gathering of believers during this timeframe. Those components were the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, communion, and prayer. And certainly, our church to this day continues in the same vain, although just as an aside, I would like to add a fifth component. And we clearly see this 5th component included in chapter 3 of Acts, which is the chapter we are looking at today.
The fifth component I’d like to add, and I think you’ll agree, is worship. An excellent definition of worship is found in Psalm 34:3, “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Max Lucado defines worship as, “the act of magnifying God – enlarging our vision of Him.” The biblical definition of magnify is “to make great,” “to extol,” to “celebrate in praise.”
If we could have a conversation with God right now, face-to-face, I wonder what He would say about our worship of Him – both here at church – and each day no matter where we are as worship can and should happen anywhere and everywhere. I hope that He would be pleased, don’t you? After all, our lives should be all about Him.
So, now on to chapter 3. It starts off with Peter and John going to the temple together to pray. Scholars believe the two of them were together, and followed Jesus and the soldiers who arrested Him, to the high priest’s palace. Yes, Peter denied Him, but none of the other disciples but he and John, followed Jesus after His arrest. Rather we are told they fled or scattered like sheep as prophesized about in Zechariah 13 and by Jesus Himself in Matthew and Mark.
Both men also ran together to the tomb of Jesus after being told by Mary Magdalene that he had risen. None of the other disciples did. They were together at Peter’s first address to the crowd, and now we see them together once again going to the temple for prayer and what will soon be Peter’s second address to the crowd. I bet they became pretty darn good friends throughout all of this – don’t you think?
The Jews went to the temple 3 times daily to pray — at 9:00 in the morning, at 3:00 in the afternoon, and at sunset. It’s now 3:00 and the first of many miracles recorded in Acts is about to take place. The event which led to praise and worshipping God in the temple!
As Peter and John approached the temple gate called Beautiful, which was a favorite entrance into the temple, a man who was lame asked them for money. Although scripture doesn’t tell us who, someone carried this man to the temple every single day because many people passed by and he relied on their generosity to survive. He would beg those entering the gate for help. He depended on almsgiving since he had no other way of providing for himself. And fortunately for him, giving to beggars was considered praiseworthy by the Jews.
We’re told both disciples looked at the lame man intently. Maybe at this point they were each feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do something for this man, to cure him. Although that was certainly not something the man expected, he just wanted money.
Perhaps he didn’t expect Peter or John to deliver on his request, or maybe he was ashamed of his need to beg for help, because he didn’t make eye contact with either one of them, until Peter demanded he do so.
Thus, the lame man looks at the disciples as directed. Peter tells him and I’m paraphrasing now, I’m sorry, I don’t have any money. But what I do have I will gladly give you. You see, I have the power of the Most-High God within me, the Holy Spirit. So, I say to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.”
He takes him by the right hand and helps him up and the man is instantly healed. And what does the man do immediately? He begins walking on his strengthened feet and ankles, leaping, and praising God. And then he went with the disciples into the temple courts for the very first time in his life. He was no longer on the outskirts – he had entered the temple complex.
But you know, I wonder what he was thinking in that moment of time, right before the most amazing event ever to happen in his life was about to occur! Remember, this man had been lame from birth. Most likely he was paralyzed. He had never walked, never skipped or jumped as a child, much less been able to run. He probably couldn’t even stand up on his own.
Now put yourself in his shoes for a minute. Can you imagine his weary, hopeless, existence? Day after day, he was carried to this gate. Day after day he had to ask for money from others so he could feed himself. All the while watching the others walk nimbly by, talking, laughing, and perhaps joking with each other.
Do you think he ever questioned why he was the one who was born lame? Do you think he ever thought about simply giving up? Do you think he ever wondered if God had completely forgotten about Him? After all, he never entered the temple, he was always on the outskirts, on the outside – while everyone else went inside.
Sometimes it’s easy for us to think God has forgotten about us. He doesn’t answer our prayers right away or the way we want. Instead, He often lets us struggle and go through difficult, challenging situations. So like this lame man, perhaps there have been times when youhave questioned why. When you have felt like giving up. When you wondered if God had forgotten about you.
Yet the Lord was on the brink of providing a miraculous turnaround for this man. Certainly what God provided for him in that moment was so very much better than any silver or gold could ever amount to. He restored this man to wholeness. He was now able to provide for himself – he would no longer need to rely on others.
Might I encourage you not to give up if you are waiting on God? If you are struggling right now, if you think He has forgotten about you. I can assure you He has not!! Psalm 139:17-18 teaches us His thoughts about us outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore….. Don’t give up on God – don’t give up on the miracle He might have in store for you! But be sure you’ve asked Him for it. We are told to ask at least 39 times in scripture. So we do need to tell Him what we need and want.
And remember, Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” He can and He will do far more than we can ever think or imagine. But we have to have faith – we have to believe He is a good God, and willing to do that which He deems is the best for each one of us.
Now back to the story. When everyone saw him walking and praising God, they were amazed as they recognized who he was and knew he had been lame. Of course, as you can imagine, when the miracle occurred it was quite a sight! And as you might imagine it attracted a great deal of attention. People were in absolute awe and quite astonished by this event. After all this man was born lame and they all knew it. So of course, they gathered around the man along with Peter and John at Solomon’s Colonnade.
Solomon’s Colonnade was part of the temple complex built by King Herod the Great in an attempt to strengthen his relationship with the Jewish people. It’s a porch along the inner side of the wall enclosing the outer court.
It was centrally located and one of the few public places in Jerusalem that was large enough to accommodate a huge crowd. People often passed through or gathered there to socialize or engage in discussion before or after their sacrifices and prayers at the temple. Thus, it was a good place to share the gospel and that’s exactly what Peter begins doing!
Peter knew immediately that the crowd would attribute the miracle to the two of them, so he was very quick to correct their erroneous thinking and give credit where credit was due – with Jesus.
When Christ cured people He did so in His own power and His own name. When the disciples did so, they did so in the name of Jesus and in His power – not their own. They recognized and understood where their miraculous power came from and then gave the glory to Jesus. They were looking more and more like Jesus, and they were no longer the self-seeking and vain men Jesus had originally called.
Notice the lame man also realized it was through the power of God that He was healed – notthrough the apostles, because he immediately began praising God – clearly he was a man of faith. He knew that God should always get the credit.
Everything we accomplish for good is only accomplished by and through God’s power. God is the one who gives us the abilities, gifts, and strengths that we all have. And yes, we all have them! After all, it’s in Him that we live and move and have our being as we learn further on in Acts in chapter 17.
And with that we will close for the day and pick up next week with Peter’s second address, which is still chapter 3, and we’ll also take a closer look at the apostle Peter. Let us pray — most Holy and Gracious God we praise You, we worship You, we love You! Thank You for who You are and what You have done for each one of us. Thank You for providing for us, for keeping us safe and protected from the virus, for healing us and making us whole. Please help all those involved to come up with a cure or vaccine for this virus so that it is eradicated soon! Please keep those who are taking care of those who are sick safe. Thank You that You have a good plan and purpose for each one of our lives. May we live out Your purpose to the full. May we accomplish what You created us to do. Please forgive us of our sins and help us to repent where needed. And now let’s pray the Lord’s prayer. Our Father, who Art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. And all of God’s people said, Amen.
Have a God-blessed week. Stay safe and healthy! Jesus loves you and so do I. You are in my prayers……