|Create Date||July 12, 2018|
|Last Updated||July 13, 2018|
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“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
Acts 2:42,43; 3:1-10
Redhill. 8 July 2018. Presented by Gordon Green
Acts is an inspiring, exciting, exhilarating book. In Acts you feel the life of God pulsating in the early church. The Holy Spirit came upon the believers and they were filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The first two chapters of Acts is about how the church began. At the end of chapter 2 we are given a detailed description of the church and her life. In chapter 3 we also learn about the early church - but in a different way. The church now faces the world as it is - reaching out to help the world. It is the church in action. This is what the church does.
The streets near the temple are lined with beggars all hoping that someone will give them money. We meet a man who was born a cripple. He couldn’t walk and so had to drag himself about on his knees. He is about 40 years old and has never walked. He sits there begging. This day is going to be different. His life is about to change. He is about to receive the greatest gift of his life. Two strangers are about to cross his path. To the beggar Peter and John are just a couple of ordinary men among the crowds heading to the temple. But they are the disciples of Jesus. They had been commissioned by him to take his gospel – the good news - to the world. The beggar sees them and calls out for money. Peter and John stop and look him straight in the eye and say, “Look at us.” It was almost as if this one beggar stood out from amongst the many beggars there and Peter can’t take his eyes off him. The beggar looks up, expecting to get something from them but Peter says “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.” Peter lifts the man to himself. The man gets the shock of his life. At first it seems as though the man is about to fall but suddenly he feels strength coming to his legs. Then he jumps up and then begins to walk around! After forty years of lying on the ground, he can walk! He begins to shout and scream. Passers-by begin to stop and watch the man walk into the temple courts leaping for joy and shouting praises to god. The crowd is astonished!
Interesting: the beggar didn’t get what he asks for but gets something much better. Sometimes God doesn’t give us what we want because what we want may not be what we need. God doesn’t give us perfect health. God doesn’t even give us perfect relationships. But God always gives us what we really need. God allows things in our life that may produce spiritual growth, real change. Also, the beggar didn’t come for divine healing. He didn’t have his life together. And why was just one beggar healed? This is the mystery of divine healing. I don’t know the answer to that question.
“Wonder” or “wonders” in Acts and “signs” appear often in Acts. Things that were happening through the church were called signs and wonders. “Wonder” means that which captures your attention and makes you wonder. It leaves you speechless. A sign is something that points away from itself. When you give someone directions as to how to get somewhere you say just follow the signs and you will reach your destination. Just follow the signs and you will get there. You don’t stop and admire the sign but you head in the direction that the sign is pointing. Miraculous signs in Acts point to Jesus. Some churches make a big thing out of healing but they stop there. Don’t focus on the wonder – it may be true – but it’s a sign. In the NT they are astonished at the wonders and then they are told it’s because of Jesus Christ. The meaning of the sign is greater than itself. A sign points to a reality beyond itself. The sign is not the reality but you are expected to do something in response to it. In Acts you will see miracle after miracle. The signs prove Jesus is alive!. He is exalted and he reigns in the heavens on earth. We don’t know how many signs and wonders there were but verse 43 says that there were “many wonders and miraculous signs”. But this story of the cripple being healed is mentioned because it began the first great persecution against the church.
Up until now ordinary people didn’t usually perform healings. Miracles were only seen in the life of Jesus Christ. But now it was different. The Holy Spirit had come. And after that signs and wonders happened. Jesus said in the upper room: “Anyone who trusts in me will also do the works that I’m doing. In fact, they will do greater works than these, because I’m going to the father!” Jesus was saying that they will keep on doing his works but even greater than he. Up until the day He ascended he was performing miracles but now the disciples would. But he didn’t stop doing these works when he ascended to his father. He was saying that he would keep on doing the works but this time when he does them the disciples do them. They would be doing them simultaneously. They would be able to do this because they would be joined as one to Jesus. Think of yourself as the same. When Jesus stretched out his hand it was the hand of the disciples. When Jesus opened his mouth it is the mouth of the disciples. They were working together because the Holy Spirit dynamically joined them to Jesus. There were probably more miracles now than Jesus had ever performed. Now Jesus was multiplied in all the disciples. To meet them was to meet Jesus Christ.
Luke said that in his book he wrote about “all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” Acts continues the works of Jesus. He was no longer there, but he was acting through and continuing his work through ordinary people like you and me. As Peter took his hand and lifted the beggar up, Christ was lifting him up through Peter. Through the Holy Spirit they were dynamically and functionally joined to Jesus. Peter spoke out of the person he is actually joined to inside. In this case of the healing of the cripple the love and compassion of Jesus rises from within Peter and he reaches out to give. This relationship to Jesus is called the head and the body. Jesus is the head and the church is the body. Everything you can say of the relationship between a body and its head is true of Jesus Christ and his church. Where my head goes so does my body. What is true of my head is true of my body. I am one person. What is true of Jesus is true of us. He died. We died with him. We rose with him spiritually and so on. We are his actual expression on earth. “I am the vine you are the branches” is the same idea. He is the life we are the expressions of that life of Jesus Christ on earth. 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.” “In the name of Jesus” means by the authority of Jesus Christ. Peter was actually saying “I have the authority to act as Jesus. I am Jesus in this situation. I speak by his authority. I am one with Jesus. He wanted the man to look at him and he wanted to make sure he got it. The miracle is the sign that points to Jesus. “Look at me but this is not coming from me. Jesus is going to perform this miracle. For us today too. When I read the Bible it is not any author but it is the word of God pointing to Jesus.
Also, Peter and John didn’t pray for healing. They gave him healing. They knew they were the extension of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. It didn’t matter about the sick person’s faith. Before that it was Peter’s responsibility. He only had -it seems - faith when he pointed to Jesus – when he mentioned his name. This is God in action.
Pray: “Lord if there is something you are doing today I would like to join in. I am available. Please put your words on my tongue and your thoughts in my mind. I want to be your hands and feet.”