In our study of Acts chapter three, we see how God uses the healing of a beggar to provide an opportunity to share the gospel.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer -at three in the afternoon.
The early church knew the value of prayer as we see here. They were intentional about their prayer time. Are we as intentional? We do not have to go to a temple to pray and in fact we have the ability to pray all through the day.
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. 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.
This scene is both familiar and different from our culture today. We see, in the first part of this passage, that the crippled man was taken to the entrance to the temple courts. He was carried there by people that knew that it was the place where he would receive help. We have the same types of people with needs as the early Christians did but, in many cases, the church has ceased to be known for compassion for these people. Instead of the Christians of today helping people, the responsibility has been turned over to the government. In the last part of the passage, we see that Peter and John stopped and spoke to the man. We also see that the man listened to them because he was expecting help. Do we, as individuals, do the same thing as Peter and John or do we ignore the people and walk away? You see, we individually have the responsibility as well as the church as a body. Yes, the man is expecting to receive money but, as we will see, he ends up hearing about Jesus.
Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'
Can you imagine the look on the beggar's face? He must have been stunned. There is a big lesson in this scripture for us today. In many cases today, we will give money, food, clothing, etc. to those in need but that is all we do. Though there are some things that people must have to survive, what good does it do them if they don't know Jesus Christ? We should tell people about Jesus and be the example of Jesus by meeting their needs. The two must go together to be an effective witness for Christ.
Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.
Have you ever wondered why Peter took the man by the hand and helped him up? You see, all Peter had to do is to heal the man through Jesus' name then the man could have easily gotten up himself. The healing comes from faith in the power of Jesus Christ but sometimes we must lend others a little bit of our faith. We need to be an example as well as to say the words. Is your life a visible demonstration of the power of Jesus Christ?
He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
This verse of scripture is a good model of what should happen in prayer. After, this beggar was healed, he immediately went into the temple praising God. It seems that we are quick to go to God with our concerns and requests but we often leave out the thanksgiving and praise. Every day we have a reason to praise and thank our God and it is not just because He has said yes to one of our requests.
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.
These verses describe something that should happen to each of us as we accept Christ and are healed from our sins. When that happens, people should take notice of it and glorify God because of it. As this beggar was healed, the people knew that he had been a cripple and then they saw him walking and praising God. They took notice as it says "they were filled with wonder and amazement". Today, we get caught up in all sorts of self improvement nonsense but we forget that God is the one who transforms us. When we do the self help stuff, it is easily explained and usually people don't even notice. But, when God does a work in and through you, people will wonder. Then, you can glorify God just as the beggar did by praising Him.
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?'
How do you react when those around you are "astonished" about what God has done in and through you? That is what these passages are showing us. You see, all of the people noticed that the crippled beggar was healed and they started acting like it was Peter and John that had cured him and not God. Immediately, Peter puts a stop to this wrong thinking by letting them know that it was not by their power that it was accomplished. We need to be prepared to give God the glory in every situation.
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.
Now that the crowd is wondering how the crippled beggar was healed, Peter puts the focus on Jesus and their role in his crucifixion. Peter points out that the One who healed the beggar is the same one that they turned over to be crucified. Can you imagine the thoughts going through the minds of the people in the crowd? You know that feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize that you really messed something up, that is what I picture the crowd coming to realize and the sinking feeling they must have felt.
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.
Peter is still showing the crowd of Jews what they have done. He points out that they even chose a murderer over Jesus. Then, he moves on to tell them that God raised that same Jesus from the dead. We may think that these verses are harsh but how many times do we choose things other than serving Jesus each day? Peter goes on to tell them that John and him are witnesses of the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. At that time, there were many stories going around as to why the tomb was empty. There were rumors that the body was stolen by the disciples as well as others but John and Peter testify to the fact that Jesus had risen.
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.
It is hard to believe until you see with your own eyes and that is basically what Peter is telling the crowd here. He reminds them that they have seen the beggar and know him. He then explains how the man that they knew as a crippled beggar was standing there before them. Peter tells them that the power only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
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.
After pointing out how the crowd had been a party to the crucifixion of Jesus, he now strikes a more conciliatory tone by stating that he knows that it was done in ignorance. He then goes on to point out that God knew it was going to happen and in fact Jesus came knowing that he would be rejected. Isn't it awesome to know that God even uses our ignorance to fulfill his purpose?
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you- even Jesus.
After spending quite a bit of time reasoning with the crowd and letting the Holy Spirit convict them, Peter now turns to the good news. He tells them that, if they repent, God has appointed the same Jesus that they turned over for crucifixion as their messiah. You see, the Jews believed in a messiah they just did not believe that it was Jesus and they thought that the messiah would immediately usher in a new Jewish kingdom. Peter tells them that this messiah would wipe away their sins.
He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
Now that Peter has explained that Jesus is the Savior, he starts to explain why the Messiah is not what they expected. You see, the Jews knew the Old Testament and that the prophets had foretold the coming of the Messiah (Savior) but it was not what they had expected. The Jewish people were expecting the Messiah to come and immediately restore the earthly kingdom of Israel. This verse also contains a promise for us today. That promise is that God is going to restore everything someday. The earth will be made new and we will get to be with God just as Adam and Eve were in Eden before their sin.
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.'
Peter now goes back to using the Old Testament to get the crowd to understand who Jesus is and what it means. He quotes Moses which the Jewish people respect as the one who brought them the law. Peter points out that this same Moses predicted that there would be a prophet after him that they must listen to. He goes on to say that this prophet will come from the Israelite people. If you look at the beginning of the Gospel account of Matthew, you notice that the first part is tracing the lineage of Jesus back to the Israelite kings. After pointing out that, according to Moses, the prophet would come, Peter then tells them that if they do not listen to him, they will be cut off from among his people. That is also important to us in the world today. It is popular today to say that there are many ways to have a relationship with God. This passage of scripture goes back to the beginning and makes it known that Jesus is the only way.
'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.'
Peter continues on with the crowd by saying that not only Moses but all of the prophets were talking about Jesus. Then, he reminds them of the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis and that this promise had come true. That promise was for us as well because it says that "all peoples" will be blessed and that includes us. Isn't it awesome that, in the very beginning, God knew us and wanted us to be heirs and his children?
When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.
Peter is reminding the crowd that God sent Jesus to them first. Do you feel blessed to have turned from your evil ways? Peter is trying to tell them that it truly is a blessing to turn from your sins. Many times, we may forget that it is a blessing to be freed from our old ways but when we stop and remember that our old evil ways take us further and further away from God then we can see the blessing of being turned.