Scriptures

Acts 3

Introduction

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer-at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled 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.” Acts 3:1-2

Peter Heals A Lame Beggar

Peter and John, who once had been partners in the fishing business, are depicted by Luke as going to the temple at 3 in the afternoon, which was one of the hours of prayer. There were at least 2 hours of prayer during a given day, the first was at 9 a.m. and the second at 3 p.m. Psalm 55:17 / Daniel 6:10.

We are not told why the apostles went to the temple, maybe they went at the three in the afternoon both to pray and to have an opportunity to speak to others about Jesus.

But no matter what their purpose was, an encounter with a man who had been lame since the time of his birth, gave them a great opportunity to preach the Gospel.

In every generation there has always been people in need, have you ever noticed that most beggars always beg at a prominent spot? They always beg in the place where they are most likely to catch most people walking by, this lame man was no exception.

He lay there every day at the temple gate, because many people would walk in and out of the temple at different times of the day, it’s a prime spot for begging.

But he was begging for food, clothes or money from those coming in and out of the temple to pray, not because he wanted to but because he had to. He had to too survive, he’s a disabled person, he can’t work or get a job, there’s no disabled benefit like people receive today. He had to beg to survive.

He’s laying here at a gate called Beautiful. This is the Nicanor Gate or Corinthian Gate that leads from the court of the Gentiles to the court of the women. These gates were decorated with golden vine and diamonds.

Therefore we see a contrast picture, the ugly man sitting next to the beautiful gates. Since he’s been there a long time he had probably seen there Jesus earlier as well, maybe just few weeks before.

Josephus describes the gate in the following manner.

‘Its height was fifty cubits, (84f) and its doors were forte cubits, (67f) and it was adorned after a most costly manner as having much richer and thicker plates of silver and gold upon them than the others.’ The other gates were all just 30 cubits, or 45’ high.’

This must have been a beautiful gate to look at, but what is about to happen next is something even more beautiful.

“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”. Acts 3:3-8

As Peter and John approached the guy, the lame man asked them to give him money. Both apostles looked at him and Peter asked him to look at them and so, the beggar turned expecting to receive some money, but Peter immediately informed him they did not have silver or gold.

Can you imagine the disappointment the lame man must have felt when he heard those words? There’s nothing worse than building your hopes up to receive something and then be let down. However, that disappointing low was turned into an emotional high when Peter healed him under the authority of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

When Peter pulled him up by his right hand, the lame man felt strength come into his ankles and went walking, leaping and praising God into the temple.

When a person is healed in the Name of Jesus Christ the result is always the same. We need to note that the lame man expressed no faith in the apostle’s ability to heal him, in fact, he only asked them for money. As Luke records it, the lame man didn’t even try to stand up, but was pulled to his feet.

Unlike the miraculous claims of many today, this miracle was absolutely undeniable. It’s also quite ironic in the fact that many of today’s so called faith healers need a big audience and they want money in advance to heal someone.

This man didn’t pray to be healed, this man didn’t pay any money to be healed, this man wasn’t told to wait for a few days and you will be healed.

This man wasn’t some unknown person from the backstreets of Jerusalem, although he was lame, he was also well known. Everyone recognized this man as the lame man who had daily lay at the Beautiful Gate begging for money.

Here’s a man who has probably been begging for help for almost 40 years, Acts 4:22. We don’t know for certain exactly how long he’s been begging but we do know that he was well known. This man could have been at the temple even when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus.

“When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized 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.” Acts 3:9-10

They were amazed that they now saw the formerly lame man standing before them. And I wonder of some within the audience thought of Isaiah words, which refer to the future glory of Zion, Isaiah 35:6.

But now the healed lame man is holding onto each of them, it was natural that a crowd would gather around Peter and John and so Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak, seized the opportunity to preach about the great healer, Jesus.

Peter Speaks To The Onlookers

“While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, 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? 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. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Acts 3:11-15

Luke tells us that the crowd looked at them as if they had somehow worked this miracle, but Peter instantly turned their attention to ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers,’ and the glorified Jesus, His Son.

The words, ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ tell us that the apostles never distant themselves from Judaism but made a point that rather every Jew should have become a Christian. As we talked earlier about David as the one to whom the promise but the kingdom is given.

Notice that we are not just ‘New Testament Christians’, simply because there are no Old Testament Christians but rather all our history is based on the Jewish anticipations of the King who should restore the Kingdom promised long time ago. Therefore, our identity is not just found merely in the ‘church’ but in the kingdom.

Can you imagine the expressions on their faces when Peter tells them that they had delivered, denied and killed the ‘Author of life’?

I believe their expressions would have been similar to when Peter first preached in Acts 2 and told them the exact same thing. But Peter doesn’t leave them with that thought, he told them that God, in His turn, had raised Jesus from the dead, a fact which Peter and John had personally witnessed remember.

The lame man had been healed in the authority of Jesus not because of his faith in the apostle’s but because of the apostles’ complete faith in their Lord’s ability to make men whole.

The recognition of that miracle by those Jews now gathered around Peter and John would have left them with no options but to recognize Jesus as King.

Pilate wanted to release Jesus but the Jews disowned him, the people of God so often rebel against God. For some, it is more convenient and sophisticated to talk to others about health, jobs etc, rather than tell about life after death of Christ.

Notice as we go through this chapter that, Jesus is the main figure.

He’s described as a servant, Acts 3:13. He’s described as the holy and righteous One, Acts 3:14. He’s described as the author of life, Acts 3:15. He’s described as the Christ who suffered, Acts 3:18. Christ was appointed for us, Acts 3:20, and finally, He’s described as a prophet, Acts 3:22.

When Peter said these words many would have readily seen that meant they had crucified God’s Anointed. Why did they kill the Messiah? Some killed Him because of political reasons. Some killed Him because of jealousy and hatred. But Peter says they killed Him because they did not fully understand.

He tells them everything happened because it was part of God’s plan. A plan that God had laid out so long before the actual events took place.

“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 given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:16-19

Peter said that it was his faith in the authority of Jesus that made it possible for him to heal the lame man, Matthew 9:22 / Luke 17:6. In other words, the faith that they had in Jesus resulted in the healing, Acts 4:10 / Acts 14:9. The faith was with Peter and John, not with the crippled man.

On the basis of the great miracle worked in the Jews midst and the undeniable fact of Christ’s resurrection, Peter appealed to the multitude to turn from their sinful lives and be converted or transformed. In other words he asks them, ‘if you want to live follow Jesus’.

Notice, he does not say here ‘be baptized’ as we are accustomed to hear in a typical sermon outline, believe, repent, be baptized. However, we can clearly see that conversion takes place in the waters of baptism, just as Peter commanded the Jews earlier, Acts 2:38.

Since a person coming up out of the watery grave is made to walk in newness of life, it would certainly be reasonable to call the effects of baptism a conversion, Romans 6:3-11. In other words, the transformation comes in the form of the sins of the obedient person being erased.

On Pentecost, Peter said those following his instructions would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38, but here he says the same thing but with different words, he describes it here as ‘times of refreshing’, which would certainly be the result of receiving the Comforter.

“And that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Acts 3:20-21

The Holy Spirit isn’t finished speaking through Peter yet, because Peter goes on to say that when Jesus’ work in salvation was completed, then God would send Jesus again to reclaim his own. Until that time when salvation was fully accomplished, as the prophets had foretold, Peter said Jesus would remain in heaven.

What does it mean ‘send Christ’ and ‘restore all things’? Jesus speaks about restoring things, Matthew 17:11-12, so can it be that he is talking about our relationships that needs to be restored as well as our standing before God.

Just as in the Garden of Eden in the beginning when Adam and Eve could stand before God and have perfect relationships till it was destroyed. Is it the kind of restoration we are taking about?

“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. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’ Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 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.’” Acts 3:22-25

There are those who will listen and obey and there are those who will listen and not obey. We already know that those who obey will go on to live with Christ forever in heaven but those who don’t obey will not go to heaven. Those who refuse God’s saving grace will be punished, as Moses said.

Peter partially quoting from Deuteronomy 18:15-19 says as children of Israel, those in Peter’s audience should have been aware of the numerous prophecies about the coming Messiah, from Samuel, 2 Samuel 7:12-16, through John.

The Jews had benefited from God’s covenant with Abraham and should also have been familiar with the promise that one day the whole world was going to be blessed through the seed of Abraham.

Paul told the Galatian church this specifically referred to one son of Abraham, Jesus, Galatians 3:16. The Jews or sons of Abraham were the first to hear the Gospel, just as Christ commanded, Luke 24:46-48 / Romans 1:16.

These guys should have known that Jesus was the Messiah. They had been told about the coming of the Messiah, time and time again through the prophets.

It’s very obvious that they thought the Messiah would come and establish a physical kingdom here on earth. But Jesus had come, not to restore a physical kingdom to Israel, but to establish a spiritual kingdom and bring salvation from sin. The fact that the Jews were to be the first to hear the Gospel clearly implies others would also hear in the future.

“When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Acts 3:26

Peter left no doubts in these people’s minds as to whom and why Jesus came. The Jews may have been there and killed the Messiah but we all need to understand that were there too we, He died for our sins. The highest blessing that can be bestowed upon people is to be turned from sin.

Sin is the source of all sadness, and if people are turned from that, they truly will be happy. Peter is saying to them and to us today that the Messiah had come, and that now they might look for happiness, pardon, and mercy through Him.

As so just as the Jews might in Peter’s day had the option to turn from their sins, people today have the choice to turn from their sins. Because Jesus still wants to bless all nations by the Gospel which He had himself preached, and which the apostle’s preached and we still preach today.

Do you need some refreshing times? Those times of refreshing are only going to come when we choose to say no to the world and yes to Jesus. It’s only when you repent and turn to Jesus in obedience and submit to Him in the waters of baptism will those times of refreshing begin.

Go To Acts 4

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 15:13

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