Reading Acts Together #6: Acts 3:1-26

Here we have two episodes that are best viewed together.*

Consider the scene:

Peter and John are still able to go to the temple and pray, modelling the devotion to prayer that the early church grabbed hold of in Acts 2:42. As they are heading to the temple a lame man asks for some money (v3). Peter’s reply is bold and amazing: ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk’ (v6). The man’s life changed forever – he not only walked but jumped and praised God for this great miracle (v8).

What is this miracle trying to teach us?

I don’t think it’s teaching us we can heal like this every time we’re confronted with a lame man, although it should remind us of the power of God who can heal the sick.

Treated in isolation, one thing it is teaching us is this – this is what grace in action looks like. Peter gave the lame man exactly what he needed. We shouldn’t be too quick to refrain from acts of grace and mercy when we have the chance to help people or give to those less fortunate. Peter didn’t walk away and just like the Good Samaritan, neither should we. Out of what we have, give to those who need it. Act out grace.

However, I actually think the best way to interpret this miracle is through Peter’s sermon. There’s lots to unpick here but let me state three things in connection with the miracle.

1: Peter uses the miracle to point people to God and to Jesus and his resurrection (v13-15). Peter then stresses it is in Jesus’ name that this man is healed (v16). We’re meant to get that this man can walk because his faith is in the resurrected Jesus. The miracle is a signpost and a foretaste of what resurrection life brings – it brings wholeness, it brings complete healing (v16). It’s also a metaphor of what happens to us when we’re saved now. Sin cripples us, keeping us outside the temple, but life in Jesus allows us to walk again, to walk into the temple of God and praise him. To walk into his presence, knowing we are no longer spiritually lame, but given resurrection life!

Once this man was weak, now he is made strong. Once he was lame and now he is healed. Once he was dead and now, he is alive. And it is the same for all of us who place their trust in the name of Jesus.

2: Connected with this, Peter also wants us to see this miracle as a signpost for the future. Peter says in v21, ‘Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.’ Talking about Jesus, Peter says eventually God will restore everything. Given this sermon is in reaction to the miracle, we have a pretty good idea of what restoration looks like: It is healing what went wrong, not just in people, but the whole of creation! Resurrection life is ultimately bringing order back to a disordered world. Bringing shalom to brokenness. Life to death. So the lame might walk and praise God forever.

3: Finally, this miracle is pointing us to faith. Peter stresses you can only have this if you have faith in Jesus’ name. If you want to be saved.

We can’t change ourselves – we can’t heal ourselves. Like the lame man who’d been lame from birth, we’re sinners from birth; and so seeing how this miracle points to what we can have – we need to trust in Jesus for his saving power. Peter stresses the shape of this faith in v19 when he says, ‘Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’. If you want your sins to be wiped out – picture lame man walking and jumping – then turn from your sins and trust in Jesus.

* Although next time we will take a closer look at the sermon to look at how Peter uses the OT in connection with Jesus.

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