POWER FOR A PURPOSE
THEME: Jesus has been crucified and resurrected, but now He has departed the earth to His proper place at the right hand of God the Father. Yet He still is present on the earth, working through His Apostles. The passage today proves that Jesus lives on, in power, despite the worst that man could do to Him. The 2nd coming will fulfill many of the prophetic promises. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant promises. He still calls people today to turn to Him and follow His will. Scripture: Acts 3: 1-26.
Read Acts 3: 1-10.
I. Jesus is really the One who is healing those who are sick (vv. 1-10).
A. This healing of the paralyzed man was a true miracle. If you don’t believe in this account of miraculous healing, then you plainly don’t believe in the Bible. It was real!
1. It was not a magic show or a fake miracle or a miracle by Satan.
2. It was not some kind of “staged” play with a willing actor playing paralyzed.
3. And it’s clear he was not paralyzed any more: at least 2,000 saw him walking, running, hopping and jumping.
4. It was not even a miracle as such. It was a sign – an action that pointed out the truth.
5. Jesus did not do signs/miracles just for fun, He did them for very important reasons.
a. Because He had great compassion for people: (Matthew 20: 34) “Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
b. To show He had power over Satan: (Mark 1: 23-27) “Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”. . . “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. . . “A new teaching – and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”
c. To prove He was who He said He was: (John 14: 11) “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”
B. Peter and John knew that Jesus had promised them power; the Holy Spirit had been poured out onto them; they knew that Jesus had promised them that they could do these things IN HIS NAME.
1. Look carefully at the miracles in the NT performed by any of the Apostles, and you will find they always acknowledge the name of Jesus as the power for the deed.
2. They realized that, without Jesus, they had no power at all.
3. They are always careful to give credit where credit is due. They insist that they deserve no credit for healing the man:
4. They admit that their power, godliness, piety, holiness, religion, devoutness, or authority had nothing to do with the healing.
5. They recognize that Christ Jesus is the power that healed the man: In fact they acknowledge it 3 separate times:
a. (v. 13) “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.”
b. (v. 16) “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.”
c. (Acts 4: 10) “Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.”
6. Sadly, most so-called “faith healers” of today would be on CNN that very afternoon describing their wonderful miracle, and how great their meeting was, and how effective their prayers had been, and how important their preaching was, and – of course – how to send money (lots of it) to their address, because it was the money that supported them that was “really” responsible for the healing. It would be enough to make a true minister or Christian puke his guts out clean to his toenails.
C. And what was the purpose of this sign/miracle? Why did Jesus empower Peter and John to heal this man at this time? They had surely passed by him numerous times before. Why now? Why him?
1. (A side note: I think this is the first miracle that the Apostles performed in public after the Holy Spirit was poured out. I cannot prove or disprove it, but it appears that way to me.)
a. I know that Acts 2: 43 says the Apostles did “many wonders and miraculous signs,” but that is a general statement about a period of time, maybe as much as 5 years.
b. There had to be a 1st one, and it would be like Luke to make sure and record it for us to understand.
D. Jesus empowered Peter and John to do this for at least 3 reasons:
1. It fulfilled the promise/prophecy that Jesus had made to the 12 during the last supper: (John 14: 12-14) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
a. The Apostles (maybe even all 120 of them) were now “officially” commissioned and empowered to perform signs to help forward the kingdom of God – and they knew they were so empowered after this miracle.
2. Although Jesus was “physically” in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father, He still was active and involved on the earth.
a. Even though people could not see Him anymore, this miracle showed that He still had compassion on the people, that He had not forgotten His special friends and followers, and that the only thing that was changed about Him was his “location.”
3. The Apostles were clearly chosen to be His authorized agents on earth. He had given them the message: the Good News/Gospel for them to proclaim. Peter had demonstrated that fact.
a. Since Peter was, at least unofficially, the leader of the 12, thereby also the leader of the 120, it was only natural, proper and right that he would be the first miracle performer. John, as the Beloved Disciple, would be 2nd. The two together made for a “perfect” timing/team.
b. Sadly, we only have Biblical references to Peter, John, Paul, and Philip the deacon actually performing recorded miracles.
c. Tradition and later histories confirm that all of the 12 and evidently most of the 120, including women, all did miracles at some time in their ministries.
d. This miracle-working ability did for the Apostles what it did for Jesus Himself: It gave them readily apparent AUTHORITY. Anyone who could cure a well known paralyzed man openly DESERVED YOUR ATTENTION. And whatever he had to say – well, you had better listen carefully. That kind of power demanded and received respect – at least from the general population.
e. Others felt their position and status and their power threatened!
Read Acts 3: 11-26.
II. The sign points to the power behind it – and to His Gospel (vv. 11-26).
A. The Holy Spirit had probably instructed Peter and John to stop and heal this man, and they were still probably wondering why, as they went on into the Temple Courts. But as the crowd began to gather – and the crowd was really large and still growing – Peter and John understood: Here’s a crowd just like on Pentecost Day – so we should take advantage of this situation and proclaim the Gospel. (Of course, we know they weren’t Baptists. If they had been, they would have passed the collection plate!)
1. Peter’s sermon takes a different direction than his Pentecostal one.
2. First, he announces benefits to repentance that are in addition to forgiveness.
a. The “times of refreshing” could easily have been stated “times of blessing.”
3. This refreshing/blessing is the RETURN of Christ Jesus from his present place at the right hand of God the Father.
a. Peter promises that Christ will return “to restore everything” as promised by the prophets.
b. The crowd would have immediately recognized this type of return to be exactly what they had been waiting for since being carried off to Babylon.
B. When Christ came the first time, the people of Israel had been conditioned to expect and desire a “David-like Messiah” who would mainly be a “political-military” rescuer.
1. They anticipated that the Messiah would kick out the Romans and restore the nation of Israel to the prominence it possessed during the reigns of David and Solomon.
2. In other words, Israel would re-emerge from its long dark season as the preeminent world power in the eastern Mediterranean.
3. No longer would they have to submit to foreign rulers.
4. The exile/captivity would truly be over and Israel would flourish.
5. Misreading the prophets and not expecting a “servant-spiritual” Messiah and their failure to recognize Jesus as the real Messiah was their great mistake and their great sin.
6. But when Jesus comes the second time, He would fulfill all the great hopes and prophecies – not only for Israel, but also for believers all over the world.
a. Israel did not realize it, but they would be a small, but very important part of the Kingdom of God.
7. This was truly “Good News”/ “Gospel” to the crowd.
8. Forgiveness and true release from exile were great blessings indeed!
C. Peter also reminds them of the leadership role that they must take in spreading the Gospel.
1. He goes back past Moses and the Law to that great “father of nations” Abraham.
2. He gives them the “bottom line” of the first promise/covenant that God had made with Abraham.
a. Here is the whole thing: (Genesis 12: 1-3) “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
3. The Jews had thought all along that Moses and the Law was the great blessing they had in advantage over the Gentiles.
4. But Peter makes the point that their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the real and true blessing for all people on earth.
5. By believing in Jesus, repenting, and turning from their wicked ways to the resurrected Lord, Christ, and Savior, the people of Israel were now becoming the instrument that God would use to bless “all peoples on earth.”
6. They were to share their Messiah, their God, and their Holy Scriptures with the whole world as “Good News.”
D. Moses had prophesied of Jesus about 1500 years earlier, and now Peter is telling them that Moses had told them “you must listen to everything he tells you.”
1. The crowd knew this prophecy well and knew it was about the Messiah.
2. Now that they see that Jesus is the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy, and the great blessings that will come as a result of their belief, they do believe and repent and turn to Jesus.
3. If you look ahead to the next chapter you can see how effective Peter’s sermon was: (Acts 4: 4) “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.”
4. So about 2,000 men, along with undoubtedly a large number of women and young people believed that day.
III. The same message is truth for us today.
A. The crowd believed that Peter and John were telling them the truth, because they had seen with their own eyes the amazing sign that God gave to show them that these men were His authorized agents.
1. If God’s authorized agent speaks to you and tells you to do something, don’t you think it would be a good idea to do that something?
B. In today’s world, those of us who preach aren’t given the same type of power that Peter and John were given, but we are given the same message.
1. God’s power is still working miracles in the world today – just in a different manner.
2. I am living proof that He is still doing them: my life today compared to the earlier years of my life is nothing short of a true total miracle.
3. So if you think you have to have a miracle to believe in Jesus, then look right here!
4. But you don’t need to see a miracle, because we have the trustworthy record of many miracles – the Word of God.
5. Jesus was not impressed with those people that HAD to see a miracle. Remember His words to Thomas: (John 20: 29) “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
C. Most of you say you have already believed in Jesus, but have you really listened to Him as the great prophet and leader Moses in Deuteronomy and God the Father at the Transfiguration both told you to?
1. He tells us we must worship and obey God only, but we put the person in the mirror first in every part of our life.
2. He tells us we should be doing what He has commanded us to do, so that when He comes (or we go to Him), we will be counted as faithful servants.
3. Are you doing His will in your life – your whole life – or are you doing it part time, or even rarely, if at all?
4. If that is your way of life, you need to change TODAY.
5. Admit you’re not living the right way, repent, and turn to the Savior.
6. Make Him the true Lord of your whole and total life.