Lame Man Walking
(Devotional Sermon for the parents at VBS)
News was spreading rapidly about Jesus Christ. The Son of God had come, given His life for the sins of every person, come back from the dead, appeared to the disciples and several others (at least 500 people at one point), and then gone through the clouds back up to heaven in sight of a large crowd of onlookers.
People were talking! Many had seen the miracles or heard the words of the Lord while He walked among them Others had heard the stories from rumors or gossip.
Jerusalem was a big city with lots of ears to hear this message Peter and the others were telling about the risen Jesus. On the highest point of the city stood the Temple, the center of all religious life in Israel. Jesus had gone there many times, preaching to the people gathered there and, from time to time, working a miracle or two. People were often with Him, marveling at the Son of God, who was also his friend.
One afternoon, not long after Jesus had gone to heaven, Peter and John decided to visit the Temple to pray. They may have remembered the time when they left their fishing nets to follow the One they came to know as the Savior. The two of them must have had many thoughts and memories as they walked up the steps leading to the place of prayer. So many incredible events had take place in those 3 brief years.
They weren’t the only ones at the Temple. Thousands gathered for prayer almost daily. And waiting for them at the gates and archways were the beggars. The beggars came to see if they could find a free hand-out from some kind people. The Temple crowded with worshippers, was a good place to ask for a few coins.
Ac 3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 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. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 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.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 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.
Peter and John were very close friends. They have been together for a long time. Not only were they disciples of Jesus for 3 ½ years, but they were part of His inner three. They saw things first hand that the others didn’t get to. When you see two disciples with Jesus it is Peter and John. When you see the three it is Peter, John, and James. If you remember, their connection goes further back than that. When Jesus came along Peter and John were already together. They were fishing buddies. It seems that their fathers were business partners and they got used to working together. Even more than that though, when Jesus calls them they were both disciples of John the Baptist. They have been friends for a long time so it is no surprise to see them here. It’s now 3 o clock in the afternoon in the Temple when Peter and John head to the temple to pray.
The temple is a big place. Do you know that you could fit 40 football fields inside the temple? It’s huge. It was about 35 acres. It is a quite an impressive piece of real-estate. On their way, they pass through a Temple Gate called “Beautiful.” Seems a bit weird to name a gate but due to the fact that the gate was inlayed with Corinthian gold and precious stones …it fits. This gate was 50 cubits high and 40 cubits wide. Now I know that those numbers don’t mean much to you… but let me translate them for you: It was 73 feet tall. That is about 2/3 the length of this room And it was a bit over 58 feet wide. About the width of this room. It was enormous. This poor man had been carried to the gate as a cripple since birth. The man was not even able to travel with the aid of a crutch he had to be carried. He was placed at the entrance to the temple every day so that he could beg. This would not have been uncommon. He was not the only cripple or beggar there. Many, Many beggars came at prayer time to wait for people to give them money so that they could eat. The temple gates might have been similar to the exit corner of Wal-Mart on Ocean Beach Hwy where beggars stand with signs “can’t work for food”. It is a great place to go and to be to beg for money.
This man couldn’t earn disability. There was no system for that. He couldn’t work a job. Who would hire a cripple who can’t even stand? So his only source of income would be to beg. Outside the temple courts is a great place because all these pious people passing through might be convicted seeing his condition and toss a few coins at him. He wouldn’t be allowed to enter into the Temple because he was a cripple. The Jews would not allow people with blemish or disability to enter the temple of God because they believed such people were not fit for God’s house. So this man sat at the gate and begged. So what do you think will happen when the Spirit of God gets a hold of him?
As Peter and John pass by, this man asks them for money, just like he did with everyone else. Peter and John don’t just walk by as everyone else does. They stop and looked at him. Now if you are like me and I am sure some of you are, when you see someone begging and you don’t really want to give them anything or don’t have anything to give you don’t look at them in the eye. As you pass by you pretend there is something interesting on the other side. It is just really awkward to look someone in the face when they are asking you for something and have to tell them no. I have had to perfect this technique with the girl scout cookies. These great, cute, precious little girls …go and camp out at the grocery store and I walk by not wanting to buy any cookies and have to be amazingly interested in the carts on the other side of them. Peter and John look at him.
In fact the word means more than just look …it means more to stare. This man would probably not have been used to making eye contact with people. He is just doing his thing begging for money When he sees Peter and John. He asks them for money and they stare at him. -Just Stare- that’s pretty awkward isn’t it? Then they say to him: look at us. I can just imagine him trying not to look at them when they say this.
He just looks up at them like a puppy might when hoping to get a treat. He is holding his beggars cup out expecting them to give him some money. He had no idea what was in store. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. Get up!” This was probably the most bizarre thing he had heard in a while. This man had never walked. He had never taken a step. How was he supposed to get up? Peter reached down and took him by the right hand. Now I don’t want you to miss this. Peter touched him. This isn’t an impersonal passing by. Peter reached down and made physical contact with the man. That is huge.
What is even more impressive is what happens with the Spirit of God gets a hold of him. This man had been born cripple. Peter lifts the man up and the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He had never used his legs before. His muscles would have been atrophied and Useless and all of a sudden he can walk. So he goes into the temple running, and jumping, and dancing.
The amazing thing about this is that he does this in the temple! No body told him not to run in church. He is just running around like a little rabbit cheering and praising God at the top of his voice. This has to be an amazing experience. Can you imagine being in the temple for this? You are trying to worship in your solemn very serious prayer when this crazy man comes running though jumping up and down going: WOOOOHHHOOOO! LOOK AT ME! I CAN RUN! I CAN JUMP! THIS IS AWESOME! I can just see some of them leaning over and saying: who is that? Oh that’s the lame guy. So a lame guy goes leaping like a gazelle through the temple of God. When the people saw this and recognized this man they were amazed.
What is interesting is why this miracle? There were so many healings and miracles going on at this time, so why does Luke tell us this story? The healing of a crippled man was of particular significance in Luke’s mind. Why? Well first off, Luke was a Doctor. A medical doctor. This man’s healing would be a first! Paul’s first miracle was the healing of a crippled man, here we see Peter’s first miracle was the healing of a crippled man. Just as in Acts 2 we see in Acts 3 a miracle followed by preaching.
In Acts 2 its tongues in Acts 3 it is a healing of a crippled man.
Ac 3:11 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. 12 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? 13 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. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.
Peter made it very clear that it is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through know Jesus as Lord that has given this complete healing to him. It must have been an amazing thing to see this man running around. Yet Peter asks: why are you surprised? It was not by their power that they healed this man. It was through the power of God that this man now was running and jumping around. You see, throughout the book of Acts, we see that miracles are often used to get people’s attention so that the word of God can be preached with authority. It seems that while God has no problem performing miracles His ultimate desire is not to wow people into faith but for them to come to Him without having to see natural laws defied all around them. Yet God will perform great miracles through His Spirit in the world so that we all may see and believe.
This is the greatest miracle in the eyes of God… It is the transformation of our hearts. You see what happens when the Spirit gets a hold of us is that He transforms our lives. For some of us this means He heals our bodies, our relationships, or our hearts. Sometimes it is not a healing at all. The reason a physical healings are so important to Luke is that they symbolize something more. A physical healing is a visible display of God’s power to fix the broken, make light in the darkness, and give hope to the hopeless. A healing is a visible restoration. For many of us that is exactly what we need. When you look at your own life, you might find that some things have fallen apart. Some things need tuning up. We all have things in our lives that need fixed or restored. What we see about the Holy Spirit is that He knows just how to fix them. And has the ability to do that. We all have things we need. When we encounter the Spirit of God our needs get met. If we can just come to God as we are And if we will just let Him fix us. He has the power to drastically change our lives. He has given us the strength to run and jump with joy in a way we never thought possible. Is that something you need in your life?
Your children this week have been given the opportunity to be the Jesus that can heal their hurts, restore their minds and take them for the ride of their life.
We invite you, if you have not met this Jesus to meet him today. Please, if you want to meet Him today please come and see me or your child’s teacher today and we will make sure that you meet this same Jesus who makes the Lame Man to Walk again.