Healing Faith, March 20th, 2022
O God, we turn to the Scripture to seek your wisdom and your truth. Send your Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to receive your Word for our lives and our times. Equip us to follow Jesus Christ, your Living Word.
New Testament Reading: Acts 3:1-10
So far, in our study of the book of Acts, we’ve read about the ascension of Jesus to Heaven and the disciples being told to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to descend on them. Once that happened the Apostle Peter gave a sermon to a crowd gathered at the temple in Jerusalem which was so powerful that 3000 people came to accept Christ as their Saviour. This event was the beginning of the Christian church and from that point on the followers of Jesus became part of a community which worshipped, prayed, and broke bread together.
Up to this point what we’ve seen is the spiritual aspect the Holy Spirit working through the disciples in the building of the church. But this morning that’s about to change. As we begin the third chapter of the book of Acts, we’re going to be introduced to the physical work of the Spirit. Today’s reading records the first miracle of healing which the power of the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to perform.
Here’s how that miracle begins, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon.” These are two of the original twelve disciples of Jesus, Peter and John, and they were on the way to the temple in Jerusalem to participate in the daily prayers which took place there. We know that they did this on a regular basis as Luke tells us that after the ascension of Jesus the disciples “were continually in the temple blessing God.” And not only were they going to worship God but no doubt they also saw it as an opportunity to tell the crowds gathered there about Jesus and his Saving Grace.
When they went to enter the temple through one of the gates this is what they saw, “a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms.” Now in the following chapter of Acts we’re told that the man was more than forty years old, so it’s quite likely that he had spent the last twenty five years or so being carried to that gate each day so that he could try to get enough money to survive another day.
But now, through the providence of God, his life was about to change. This is what took place, “Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” The lame man had asked for a handout, a few pennies so he could get some food, but he received something much better than that. Peter spoke a word of healing to him in Jesus’ name, reached out his hand and pulled him to his feet. Instantly, God’s miraculous power strengthened the man’s feet and ankles, so that he could walk. The man was hoping for money, but he got so much more, he was healed of his lameness.
So, Peter, through the work of the Holy Spirit, was able to heal this man who had been crippled from birth. Peter told the man that in the name of Jesus Christ he was to stand up and walk. He then took the man’s hand and lifted him to his feet. And what’s the first thing the man does? We’re told, “Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” And what’s important there are the words, “praising God”. Although it was Peter who physically healed the man, he immediately understood that his ability to walk was actually the work of God. The healed man knew where his healing had come from. He didn’t shout praises to Peter and John. He didn’t boast that because of his great faith he had been healed. No, he simply praised God. He recognised that it was God and God alone, who through his great mercy, had cured him.
So, this man was not only healed physically, but he also was healed spiritually, because he was now praising God. The man’s joy is a fulfillment of what Jesus the Messiah can do. The prophet Isaiah said, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.” And this prophesy was fulfilled by Jesus’ ministry. When John the Baptist had been put in prison by Herod, he sent a messenger to ask Jesus, “‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” This was the reply of Jesus, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” And now, that once lame beggar came to believe. It was an amazing experience that many of the early believers witnessed.
All those who were at the temple that day would have seen and heard what had taken place. Many people in Jerusalem would have known about this lame beggar as he’d been sitting at the temple gate daily for over twenty five years. He had been lame from birth and we’re told that, “People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate”. Those who had seen Peter command that man to stand up and walk would have known that lame man well and so couldn’t call the healing a trick. It was God at work through the Holy Spirit.
Some of those there that day would have remembered the words of the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, who predicted that when the Messiah for Israel came, “then the lame shall leap like a deer”. This was a fulfillment of that prophecy. Jesus, through his many miracles, proved to the people that he truly was that Messiah. He had healed many people and now Peter, through the work of the Holy Spirit was able to heal the lame man as another sign that his Lord and Master, Jesus, was truly the Son of God.
Many of those who witnessed the miracle of the lame man walking also came to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Luke says, “they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” And that is just as important to us today. The beggar was looking for money, but Peter then gave him a gift far better than the one he expected to receive. This is typical of how God deals with needy people. When we give people the gospel, we give them God's best gift. Life here on earth is a flash in the pan compared to eternal life with God.
As always, times continue to change. The days of such miracle healings with the apostles are gone. But that doesn’t mean that miraculous things don’t still happen. Miracles around the world still happen. Sometimes what we think of as a small thing can be huge. When we reach out to others and include them in our community of faith, we can make a miracle happen. We must always be looking for opportunities to share the joy of new life in Christ with those around us who are in need of spiritual healing. Imagine the miracle of saving even one soul. Imagine the power of bringing the peace of Jesus to one person. Imagine bringing hope to one person lost in this often cruel world. These are different types of miracles but are miracles none the less. Are we stopping and taking the time to reach out to those who need us? There are so many at the gates whom we can help. It reminds me of a simple but profound quote from Dr. Seuss; “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”
And in the name of Christ, we can offer healing to them. In this story of the lame beggar, it wasn’t his faith that cured him, but rather the faith of Peter and John. We’re told by Luke that, “When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’” The beggar saw them originally as an opportunity for some money, but they could offer him so much more than that. So, if we could only have the faith of Peter, think of the things we could do all around us.
And that story of the lame beggar being able to walk doesn’t end there. Next week we’ll see how Peter used that miraculous healing to bring a message of salvation to those who were in the temple that day, the most important message to all!
Let us Pray:
Heavenly Father, you are the only source of hope, health and healing. In you there is calm, and the only true peace in the universe. Grant to each one of us, as your children, an awareness of your presence, and give us perfect confidence in you. In all the pain, weariness and anxiety which we often experience, teach us to yield ourselves to your never-failing care, knowing that your love and power surround us, trusting in your wisdom and providence to give us peace. Also please give us the strength to share this precious gift with others. Amen