25 April 2019

Acts 3

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter speaks to the onlookers
11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
17 ‘Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”
24 ‘Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, “Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.”[b 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.’

‘…why does this surprise you?’ (verse 12)

That’s what Peter asks in the wake of a man, lame from birth, being healed in Jesus’ name. Is there anything too hard for God to do through Jesus? If He can raise Jesus from the dead – the very Jesus that ‘they’ handed over to be killed; if He can fulfil ‘all’ the promises made to their forefathers and prophecies given through their prophets; if He can accomplish all these marvellous things … then why wouldn’t He be able to heal the lame in Jesus’ name?

Peter asks it in such a matter-of-fact way that he assumes his hearers (and we the readers) will concur – it’s no surprise that God can do this! He is great and majestic; He is wise and gracious; He is faithful and true; He is powerful and mighty. Nothing is too hard for Him – neither raising the dead, nor healing the lame; neither saving sinners, nor refreshing the weary. And if God can do all this, if God has done all this through Jesus, how can we not ‘Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and times of refreshing may come from the Lord (verse 19)’?

Peter’s simple question is a wonderful pointer to the greatness of God and for us to respond to Him in repentance and faith; living lives that point others to His greatness too.

Prayer: O great God, glorify yourself in all the earth. Though we are so small and you are so grand, help us to magnify Your name. Help us to make Your name and the nature of Your grace larger and easier for people to see. Help us to live and to worship in such a way that we become like magnifying glasses through which our neighbours and co-workers and children and friends can see You come into focus in ways they may not have seen before. When people ask for an explanation of the hope we have, give us the words to answer thoughtfully and well. When people wonder out loud who Jesus is and why He matters, help us to reply in words that will echo the sweetness of Your gospel. Help us to magnify Your name, O Lord, so that You may be glorified in all the earth.  Amen.

Adapted from the Worship Source Book (Baker Books, 2013) page 193