Thursday, May 8, 2014

DON'T LOOK AT ME (Acts Chapter 3)

Acts 3:12, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us…?”

Peter and John were a part of an amazing miracle.  A man lame from his mother’s womb was begging alms from those who were entering the temple.  Peter and John came upon the man and gave him no alms.  Instead, Peter reached out his hand and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).  “And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).

The people saw the man and recognized him to be the lame beggar.  They saw what had happened to him and “were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (Acts 3:10).  While the healed man was clinging to Peter and John, the people were staring at them.  Peter saw them staring and responded by making it clear that the healing was sourced not in them or their power, but in Jesus: “And his name-by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16).

The miraculous healing of the lame beggar happened for a specific purpose.  The purpose was not to elevate or draw attention to Peter and John, the purpose was to testify to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The people saw what happened and marveled, Peter explained how it happened.  He had done the same in his first sermon.  The people wondered how it was that they were hearing the Galileans speaking to them in their own native languages (Cf. Acts 2:9).  Peter used that miraculous event to declare the truth regarding Christ’s death and resurrection (Cf. Acts 2:14f).  This pattern— a miraculous event providing the opportunity to proclaim the truth about Jesus--is repeated throughout the book of Acts.  From its inception the church was Spirit-led to preach, as a matter “of first importance,” the good news of Christ’s death for sins and resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:23-24; 3:15; 4:10; 4:10; 4:33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, etc.; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 15:3-4).

In his message to the people Peter made it clear where the power for the healing came from—“the faith that is through Jesus has given this man perfect health” (Acts 3:16).  He called upon the people to repent.  “Many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of men came to about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).  Later called upon to give an account to the religious leaders of what he was doing, he reiterated the same truth: “If we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well” (Acts 4:9-10).  The people were staring at Peter and John, but Peter diverted their focus to the Lord Jesus.  The religious leaders interrogated Peter and John, but Peter again directed their attention to He who saves.  Such is the nature of any Spirit-led ministry.  Its goal is ever and always to elevate and glorify the Son (Cf. John 16:14).  The Spirit Himself in effect says, “Don’t look at Me, look to Him!”

It was the Risen and Ascended Jesus who healed the lame-from-birth beggar.  Peter made that clear.  People saw what happened and believed in Jesus.  To this day Jesus has been at work healing sin-sick souls.  While He privileges us to play a part in making the truth known, it is He alone who saves (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-9).  Let us be ever mindful to follow Peter’s Spirit-led example—“Don’t look at us, look to Him” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7; Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12).  He who died for sins and rose from the dead is able to heal lame-from birth beggars and sin-sick souls (Cf. Ephesians 2:1-3, 8-9).

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