2018-03-11 – Acts 3:1-10 – Beautiful & Broken

2018-03-11 – Acts 3.1-10 – Beautiful & Broken

Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar
1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And 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. 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. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico
11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. 12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

2018-03-11 – Acts 3:1-10 – Beautiful & Broken
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.

Thanks for being on-time today despite the daylight savings time change. You know as Baptists, we really don’t have to participate in daylight savings, because we believe once saved always saved, yuk, yuk, yuk.

Our last week’s sermon showed us how the first Christians lived out their new Christ-centered life with their new church family. They prayed and praised God together, they ate together, and they even shared their resources with each other as there was need. And they added to their numbers daily.

I suggested some stretch goals to consider in this regard. That we should try to participate in at least two church meetings together each week, and one “extra event” a month at church. We should consider sharing a meal once a month with somebody in our church family. And we should try to exhibit joy and glad-filled hearts more in our lives that leads to God being praised. And in that effort people should take notice, and perhaps the Lord will add to our numbers here as well.

At the end of chapter two, it said that the Apostles were doing many wonders and signs; today’s message called Beautiful & Broken. We are going to witness one of those miracles and also the starting of a new sermon message by Peter.

Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 3:1, pg 120 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with prayer.   [Prayer]

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon.

You might be asking right off, why were Christians going to the Jewish temple? You have to understand that the first believers were Jewish Christians and still considered themselves Jews. The only difference is they now knew and believed in Jesus as the Messiah. But they still participated in many of the rituals of Judaism. They met at the temple because that’s what they knew to do.

Some Bible versions say they were going to the temple on the 9th hour. The Jewish day started at Sunrise or 6am. So the 9th hour would be 3pm. The normal prayer times for Jews was 9am, noon and 3pm. How many folks do you know that gather three times a day for prayer? Nada, but they were mostly just going through the ritualistic practices of the day. There are many people that claim they are religious even today. But they may not even know why they do what they do, like the Jews they are just going through the paces. Kind of sad really, but just because people are religious, doesn’t mean that they are going to heaven. The only way anyone gets to heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus.

In Peter’s day thousands of people would be walking up to the temple for prayer. Something like going to a football game today if you could imagine. And as I understand, this was a new temple, rebuilt by Herod in 20 A.D. It was huge, about the size of six football fields. People generally entered in at the top, on the eastern wall made of polished bronze, that is why it was referred to as Beautiful.

And 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. 

Relatives and friends regularly brought the lame and handicapped people, and they would lay them at the main gate which leads into the temple. And knowing that the people would be going in and out of the temple for prayer, he wanted to pan-handle these folks. He knew the people coming in and out of the temple had money as they were tithing, and their hearts would be softened and it would be more likely that they would give money as charity. Same as what happens today.

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.” 

Again, this beggar is a pro; I’m not suggesting he was a crook, however he knew how to work a crowd. Even today beggars want to make eye contact with you so they can perhaps establish an emotional connection and then get some money. When Peter said “I have no silver or gold” I bet the beggar was immediately put off at that comment. But Peter gave him something much more valuable instead.

Funny I read once, where in the 13th Century, a theologian named Thomas Aquinas visited the Pope. And when a large sum of money was spread out in front of him, the Pope said, “You see, the Church is no longer in that age in which she said, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’ To which Aquinas replied “True, holy father, however neither can she say to the lame, ‘Rise up and walk.’”  lol

Anyway, although it isn’t specified, I would bet the beggar had heard of Jesus and the miracles Jesus performed, and so he might have already had hope in Jesus beforehand. He may have even seen Jesus as He visited that area several times in the past three years. And when Peter mentioned the name of Jesus Christ, the beggar had faith that Jesus could heal him. We should have such faith.

Peter said effectively, I know what you need. It isn’t money, it is Jesus Christ. In some ways, the money issue even today gets in the way of true ministry.

This man was healed, but the true miracle is that many people came to the Lord because of Peter and this man’s faith. What Peter did that day, we could do as well. Leading people to the Lord. That is our Great Commission. Yes, we want to meet the immediate needs of the people, but their eternal welfare is where our true focus should be. We might be able to comfort for a moment the struggles of the day, but God calls Christians to do even more than that. We need to be sharing the Good News of Salvation with the people we meet. Money is merely a mechanism that we can use to get into the people lives. So that they might then consider what we say. And in that effort, God will be pleased.

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 

Instantly the man became strong. We don’t know why he couldn’t walk, but he jumped up and instantly began walking and praising God. Could you imagine his excitement?  I bet he was screaming praises that day. I know I would be.

All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Reenactment of the Lame Man Walking
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWkPUWc7VNE

He was crippled from birth and all of a sudden he was walking and leaping.
In Acts 4 it says the man was 40 years old. 40 years of begging, 40 years of struggle and strife. And that day he found out why, so that through this miracle, God can be praised and many could be saved. Peter said “Look at us!”
Can you imagine doing that to a beggar today? And then tell him I don’t have any money, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk! It is all about our faith.

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished.
Again, our verses say that instantly the man’s feet became strong, and he was jumping and leaping and praising God. He clung on to Peter and John, and I can almost imagine him doing that in gratitude but also in amazement. In Greek the word clung is something akin to a big bear hug. And the crowd quickly gathered. That itself is a dangerous situation. When crowds come, bad things typically follow. He was drawing all kinds of attention and the people came running.

This is now the perfect time for Peter to take the lead. Taking advantage of the crowd’s wonder and excitement, and it can also be a great temptation for pride. This is where many a leader tends to fail unfortunately. However Peter used this opportunity to point to Jesus instead.  Read with me now starting at verse 12:

12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

Let me remind you that they are in the belly of the beast here. At the temple where all the Jewish authorities and persecutors were. Peter was bold and brave. He says right off the block effectively, why are you amazed? Why are you surprised? And don’t look at me, I didn’t do this, God did..

You might also notice the format of Peter’s second message here to be just like his first message in the previous chapter. First He calls them out, Peter gets real and points out the truth. – You handed him over to be killed, you disowned the Messiah, and you killed the author of life. Ouch!

Peter does this so that they might recognize their sinful state, confess their sins and ask for forgiveness. If we are going to mature as believers, we have to face our sins and then ask for forgiveness. This also provides a perfect opportunity to present Jesus as the Savior that they (and we) all need. And then Peter tells them that it is by faith in the name of Jesus that made this man strong.
He said, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”
Remember Jesus is His rightful birth name, however “Christ” is not Jesus’s last name. “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed one” or “chosen one.” This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah” Savior.

So when Peter (or we) call out the name of Jesus Christ, that means that we are acknowledging that Jesus is the Savior. And that faithful belief is what causes miracles to happen. It isn’t a magical name, but it is a powerful faithful name. Faith in Jesus the Savior “Christ” can, not only cure you, but even more importantly it can save you for all of eternity. And that needs to always be our primary focus and mission.

This is the second sermon of the Apostle Peter. His sermons are relatively simple, and I like that. We sometimes have the tendency to make the messages more puzzling than what they really are. Peter is known for just telling people like it is. Peter knows Jesus, he saw Him perform many miracles. And Peter knows Jesus is not dead, that He still lives. He even saw Jesus ascend into heaven. Jesus is alive ladies and gentelmen, I hope you believe that. And Peter is embolden because of this. Say with me if you will, “Jesus Christ is Alive” and to that I say Amen!

And I love how Peter calls the people out “Why do you wonder at this?” Then he deflects their praise and adoration to God instead of himself. You see Jesus prepared Peter for this type of event. Remember Peter was initially a little prideful. He thought he was something special, but then Jesus provided Peter a little on-the-job training. Peter humiliated himself and thusly humbled himself through a series of mistakes while he was being tutored by Jesus. Peter went from being a prideful man to being a humble servant leader. So Jesus prepared Peter’s heart and mind for ministry. And that is how Peter kept his head in this challenging situation.

Peter told them “You killed the Author of life”. This is just another example from scripture that shows Jesus was part of the God-head that created the universe. I believe in the creation His-story as written in Genesis. I believe the universe was created in six literal days. And these verses here point to Jesus being the “Author of Life” That is good enough for me and my Bobby McGee. Lol. I know there is probably some of you that believe in Evolution. But even Evolutionists, when asked where did the initial start of life come from? The only true answer they have is “we don’t know”.  Well I know, and the answer I defend is GOD.

Anyway Peter is saying, don’t look at me, God did this through His Son. Peter was just an instrument for God in this miracle. Let me ask you a question: When you see a beautiful flower garden, in appreciation do you thank the tool?  Of course not, you thank the Gardener. Well Peter is like a tool for the Great Gardener God.

God used this miracle to reach some folks. These verses here tell us not only what did happen, but what did not happen as well. It wasn’t sorcery, witchcraft, magic or anything like that. All those things are an abomination to God. Look at verse 16 it says “His Name by faith in His Name, has made this man strong..  and faith which is through Jesus has given this man health”. So Jesus gave this man the faith, faith that gave the man health. This man was laying there every day for years. And faith in the name, given by Jesus, healed him. Peter is basically saying, although I am speaking the words, it is Jesus that even gave the faith that did the healing. Peter is in one accord with Jesus, Jesus is in one accord with God. It is appropriate that the man praise God for his being healed.

This healing actually took place. This isn’t just a story it is real. The Bible tells us that these things were occurring to for the purposes of growing the church, and so we can know God’s love directly. I have witnessed “healings” myself at least twice directly, probably even more than that, but in two distinct instances I saw and recognized a physical healing. Can God do this? Of course He can. I cannot, but God can use me and He can use you for whatever purposes He has and for His glory alone. But it is all connected to our faith in “Jesus Christ of Nazareth”.

The Bible tells us that “the prayer of a righteous man availith much”, and I believe that with all my heart. And like we talked about last week, we need to be praying for one another often. Loving one another more. And then when, not if, but when we see a miracle, we will give all the glory to God, not man, just like Peter did here.  And our priority in life should be, as long as we are living on this Earth as Christians, is to endeavor to lead folks to an eternal healing that leads to heaven. Amen?

We will see in the next chapter, when this sermon is over, Peter is going to get arrested for having a prayer meeting praising God over what has occurred here.

Again, today’s message called Beautiful & Broken. Although these title words are of a different context, they are so true non-the-less. Each one of us are in some ways Beautiful and Broken, just like the man at the temple. And God loves you so. He wants you to recognize your need for His grace and mercy. He wants you to choose to love Him even though you don’t have it all figured out. For that is what faith is all about.

Would you please rise.