Sunday we looked at the healing of the cripple at the gate called Beautiful from Acts 3:1-26. Healing stories are powerful because they are never simply about the physical healing, but they always point to a spiritual reality. The spiritual reality we see proclaimed in the healing of the cripple is that restoration is available to us in Jesus.
When the cripple was healed he was at the one of the entrances to the Temple. This gate is thought to be on the east side of the Temple in Jerusalem, and although it was bronze it was ornate and thus called Beautiful. The gate is also likely to be one of the most frequently used gates to go in and out of the Temple at times of prayer. The cripple was over 40 years old (Acts 4:22), and had been in this condition since birth (Acts 3:2). He was placed at the gate by friends or family on a daily basis to beg for alms. It seems his presence was well known to worshipers at the Temple (Acts 3:8-10). Peter and John approach the Temple for prayer and immediately engage the crippled man. The man thought he might receive something from them, but what he received was more than he ever could have imagined. Peter tells him he doesn’t have any money, but instead says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” He then takes the man by the hand, and brings him to his feet. Acts 3:8 speaks for itself, “And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. ” This is tremendous for two reasons: First, obviously the man was immediately restored to perfect health (Acts 3:16). But in addition, the man was able for the first time to enter the Temple with his family and friends to worship God! His prior condition would have prohibited him from worshiping at the Temple. There has been a physical healing, but also a spiritual one.
The story doesn’t end there, a crowd gathers around Peter, John and the healed man. It seems they are attributing the miracle to the power or piety of Peter and John, but Peter denies this clearly (Acts 3:12). Instead Peter explains that Jesus who was crucified, was raised from the dead (Acts 3:13-15), and then he emphatically declares in Acts 3:16, “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.” The source of the healing of the crippled man is the risen Lord Jesus working through the hands of the apostles!
Peter goes on to say there is an even deeper reality that we all must respond to in light of this healing. He does so by explaining the days they are living in (which I believe are the same “days” we live in today). He shows that we live in days of fulfillment, blessing and response.
– Peter shows they are days of fulfillment by associating the work of Jesus through with the prophet predicted by Moses (Acts 3:22-23; Deuteronomy 18:15f). He also associates Jesus with the offspring of Abraham which would bless the nations (Acts 3:25; Genesis 22:17-18).
– Next he shows these are days of blessing in Acts 3:26 saying, “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” We don’t often think of the ability to turn from our wickedness as a blessing, but that is what Peter declares to us in this text. Every day, hour, breath we are given is a blessing from God in which we can either acknowledge God’s holiness or deny His authority in our lives. As Lamentations 3:22-23 states, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
– Finally, Peter shows we live in days of response. In Acts 3:19-21 he says, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” His call is to recognize our sinfulness in the eyes of a holy God and repent! We aren’t to stop there though, stunningly, our sins can be “blotted out.” This is a term used for removing ink from a piece of paper. He is saying if you wrote all the ways you have hurt those around you and denied God, in Jesus, those things could be washed away! Finally he says this will bring times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. As you are forgiven in this way, your love and forgiveness for others grows. How refreshing to live in a community where people care for others more than they care for themselves. Where people love one another and forgive each other as they have been forgiven.
So, although our story this week started with a man being healed physically, we see the healing had even greater implications. The fact is, without Christ Jesus we are all this crippled man sitting outside of the gate. We are unable to approach the throne of God to worship. With Jesus, Hebrews 4:15-16 rings true for us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Jesus is the restorer of all things (Acts 3:21), and through faith in His name our sins are blotted out and now we can walk and leap and praise God!
Sunday’s message can be heard here
This week we will continue our study of Acts with 4:1-22 for which I have included some questions below. If you are interested in joining us, we would love to have you. We will first study the text together during our Wednesday night community group, and then again during our Sunday night worship service. For more information, click here.
-What happens to Peter & John in this passage?
-Do you believe there is only one way to heaven as Peter testifies to the council?
-How does the council respond to Peter & John? What do they have to say about their background and the content of their message? What rebuke/punishment do they give?