Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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First Miracle in Acts

January 21st, 2010 by Vic

Acts 3

While you were getting ready for church this morning, did you get interrupted?  Or if you are like me, you probably interrupted yourself.  This chapter begins with Peter and John heading to a regular prayer meeting and someone is going to make them a little late.

Acts 3:1-10

The Jews had regular prayer times after sunrise, at 3 pm and before sunset.  Peter and John are planning to attend the afternoon prayer time.  Jesus had not commanded them to quit attending because the leaders were corrupt and the sacrifices are no longer necessary.  There was no sudden break with their former routines of worship.  Judaism was not to be overthrown, but gradually transformed by the Spirit of Christ in the lives of believers.

3:2  They come to worship through the Beautiful gate.  If you’ve seen pictures of Jerusalem, you’ve seen the Eastern gate walled up to prevent the Messiah from returning.  Inside that gate was Solomon’s porch with columns over 80 feet high.  As you continue west you are in the court of the Gentiles.  You come to this beautiful gate that leads into the Court of Women.  On the steps up to this gate we are told about one cripple.  There were probably many beggars at this entrance.  This was a popular tourist site.  The columns of this gate were plated in brass.  They were topped with elaborate Corinthian capitals.  It was very impressive and if you wanted to be seen by others, you would come to worship through this gate.

It was a busy intersection of many people.  Because the crippled were considered unclean, they were not allowed inside the Temple to join in prayer.  Giving alms to the poor was a required Jewish practice.  Those coming to worship should be more sensitive to the poor.  If you gave to invalids at this gate you would be seen by many and get a tax credit or popularity credit, or reputation credit.

This man has been crippled from birth.  He was so crippled that he could not hobble along by himself.  He had been dependent on family and friends all his life.  Chapter 4 tells us he was 40 years old.  He knew the best place to get alms and he knew the best time of day to be there.  And God was going to make his day.

3:3  What did the cripple want?  What did he need?  He thought he needed the world’s systems and solutions.  The world offers solutions.  The world had labeled him a helpless dependent beggar.  He had been on welfare all his life.  He has no expectations that his life will ever change.  He assumes the solution is more money.

Think about the application.  When you sin, you become a cripple.  You assume there should be help at church so you go lay on the steps or bang on the windows at the parsonage and ask for money.  You’ve been attending church all your life and you have not been healed.  The real solution to your problem is not the world’s systems or the church’s systems.  Jesus died and rose again that you might be forgiven and be whole. There is hope in Jesus

3:4-5  Was this beggar avoiding eye contact?  Did he see the disciples as rich?  Did the disciples see him as poor?  Were Peter and John different from other worshippers coming to pray?  Were they wondering why they had forgotten to bring alms for the poor?  All their spare cash was in the new Community Christian Credit Union.

Peter and John were sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  They were beginning to realize that every event in their lives was a God event.  Did they wonder why God had directed them to a man who needed money?  Did they remember how Jesus had healed many lame?

3:6  The temptation is to give people what they are asking for.  Peter and John could have gone back and got some funds for this man.  Peter was broke, but had a joy and relationship that he had to share.

The story of Thomas Aquinas is often told and I did not check the original source, but apparently one time when Thomas went to visit Pope Innocent II, he found the Pope counting a large sum of money.  Some say the Pope took him on a tour of all the gifts and treasures that the Vatican had received.  At some point the Pope stopped and said, “Ah Thomas, the church can no longer say, ‘silver and gold have I none.’”  “That is true” replied Thomas, “but then, neither can it now say, ‘Arise and walk.’”

Peter commands the man to get up and walk.  (Shamans and witch doctors would use potions, prayers or incantations to try to heal the sick.  They never commanded the sick person to be healed.)  He had never walked.  He could not even crawl.  There must have been something in Peter’s gaze that kindled faith in the man’s heart.  While he was trying to figure out how to use his legs to get up and walk…

3:7-8  Peter took him by the right hand and helped him up just like Jesus had done to Peter’s mother-in-law.  Something started happening to the man’s body.  His burden of deformity was lifted.  He felt light as a feather.  He legs held him up.  He felt the exhilaration of keeping his balance on his feet.  He started walking.  He walked with Peter and John into the Court of the Women where he had never been before.  Maybe he did not know how to act.  Were you supposed to bow your head?  Were you supposed to kneel?  Were you supposed to sing praise choruses or hymns?  He was jumping and dancing in church during the time of prayer!  He was acting like a child.  It is beautiful to see spontaneous praise.

There is no record of Peter and John praying for this lame man at all.

3:9-11  This man was well known.  A miracle has happened.  He had not been anointed with oil.  He had not asked anyone to pray for him.  But he is praising God.  He is experiencing the real presence of God.

When the Spirit of God is present there is a sense a wonder and amazement just as 2:43 said.

3:12-16

3:12-13  Peter disclaims any credit for the miracle.  Jesus said, “Let men see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  We belong to Jesus and God is glorifying Jesus through us.  Jesus is the suffering servant of God that Isaiah talked about.  This Jesus whom you handed over to Pilate is the one responsible for this healing.  Pilate recognized His innocence, but you did not see.

3:14-15  Peter is helping them see their guilt in an unthinkable crime.  It had been a case of mob hysteria causing mistaken identity.  They had demanded the release of a murderer and put to death the Holy and Righteous One.  Peter uses several different names and titles for Jesus.  This was no ordinary man they handed over to Pilate.  He was God’s gift to mankind.

You killed the Author of life, but God raised Him and took Him back to heaven.  The enthroned Christ has sent His Holy Spirit.  The healed beggar is proof that Jesus is alive, seated on the right hand of the Father, and Lord of All.  Peter does not curse them for killing Jesus, but offers them hope.  He is telling them what happened and reminding them that God is in it.

3:16  The name of Jesus has no magic, but faith in his name brought healing to this man as you can see.  The Spirit of Jesus has healed this man.

3:17-18  Peter spoke plainly with gentleness and hope.  You and your leaders did not know what you were doing.  In fact God fulfilled many prophecies with your sin.  You meant it for evil, but God used it for good.  You shed the blood of the Messiah and God now offers that blood for your forgiveness and cleansing.  Jesus suffered and became a sacrifice for you just like the prophets had foretold.

Peter’s preaching stated the facts:  Jesus is a historical person.  Jesus was crucified.  Jesus was raised from the dead by God and “we’ve seen Him.”  This is in harmony with OT prophecy.  Jesus was made Christ and Lord of All.  Mankind’s response is repentance and choosing to believe.

3:19-26

Now what are you going to do about it?

3:19 There are 2 things to do:  Repent and be converted.  Repent means to change your mind.  Converted or turn to God means to change your life style.  Don’t turn your back on God.  Look closely at this verse.  Repent so that your sins may be wiped out.  Change your life style so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  Turn from your sins and turn to God.  When you are doing your own thing with your backside towards God, He can’t forgive you or bless you.

Repentance is more than saying you’re sorry.  Repentance is being sorry enough to quit.

3:20 This verse is clarifying our times of refreshing.  Times are really refreshing when we live a righteous life style and God sends the Spirit of Jesus to cleanse us and fill us.  God is also sending Jesus again just before we go to heaven.

3:21 The return of Jesus will not happen right away.

3:22-24 While we wait, we must listen to everything the Spirit of Jesus tells us.  If you don’t listen, you won’t make it to heaven.  Moses, Samuel, and other prophets were predicting this day.

3:25-26 As Jews we have a special blessing and responsibility because these truths had been revealed to us first so that through us all the peoples on earth will be blessed.  If you, your family, your church, your nation want to continue to be blessed by God, turn from your wicked ways.

The requirements of God are the same for all mankind, repent and believe.  We are witnesses of these things.  Turn to God.

The Temple was to be the House of God, the home of God’s presence.  But a cripple had come to the doorstep for years and had not changed.  2 men filled with the Spirit of Jesus brought God’s presence to the doorstep and into the Temple.

Hudson Taylor’s life motto was “Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.”  He also said “Many Christians estimate difficulties in the light of their own resources, and thus attempt little and often fail in the little they attempt.  All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence with them.”

Is God great?  Is God faithful?  Has God changed?  Are we insulting God when we come before Him without a sense of expectancy or wonder?  Do I really live like God’s child could live?  Am I expecting anything to happen?

Repent and turn to God.

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