Apr 19, 2021
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
We like to read the stories in the Bible. We like to hear about the miracles and heroes rising up to defeat great armies. But that’s not what the Bible is about. When we stop and examine those stories, they tell us about God’s plan for humanity through those stories. What’s more important is how his plan unfolds through the lives of those who follow him and stay obedient to him. We learn by watching God’s power work through their weakness.
One such story comes from the early believers as Peter and John go to the temple to worship. But it’s not the miraculous event that should capture our attention, but Peter’s sermon that follows. Just to make sure we suit everyone, though, I will share the miraculous part of the story, too.
The time of prayer was about three o’clock in the afternoon, and Peter and John were going into the temple. A man who had been born lame was being carried to the temple door. Each day he was placed beside this door, known as the Beautiful Gate. He sat there and begged from the people who were going in.
The man saw Peter and John entering the temple, and he asked them for money. But they looked straight at him and said, “Look up at us!”
The man stared at them and thought he was going to get something. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold! But I will give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, get up and start walking.” Peter then took him by the right hand and helped him up.
At once the man’s feet and ankles became strong, and he jumped up and started walking. He went with Peter and John into the temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone saw him walking around and praising God. They knew that he was the beggar who had been lying beside the Beautiful Gate, and they were completely surprised. They could not imagine what had happened to the man.
While the man kept holding on to Peter and John, the whole crowd ran to them in amazement at the place known as Solomon’s Porch. Peter saw that a crowd had gathered, and he said:
Friends, why are you surprised at what has happened? Why are you staring at us? Do you think we have some power of our own? Do you think we were able to make this man walk because we are so religious? The God that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and our other ancestors worshiped has brought honor to his Servant Jesus. He is the one you betrayed. You turned against him when he was being tried by Pilate, even though Pilate wanted to set him free.
You rejected Jesus, who was holy and good. You asked for a murderer to be set free, and you killed the one who leads people to life. But God raised him from death, and all of us can tell you what he has done. You see this man, and you know him. He put his faith in the name of Jesus and was made strong. Faith in Jesus made this man completely well while everyone was watching.
My friends, I am sure that you and your leaders didn’t know what you were doing. But God had his prophets tell that his Messiah would suffer, and now he has kept that promise. So turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven. Then that time will come when the Lord will give you fresh strength. He will send you Jesus, his chosen Messiah. But Jesus must stay in heaven until God makes all things new, just as his holy prophets promised long ago.
Moses said, “The Lord your God will choose one of your own people to be a prophet, just as he chose me. Listen to everything he tells you. No one who disobeys that prophet will be one of God’s people any longer.”
Samuel and all the other prophets who came later also spoke about what is now happening. You are really the ones God told his prophets to speak to. And you were given the promise that God made to your ancestors. He said to Abraham, “All nations on earth will be blessed because of someone from your family.” God sent his chosen Son to you first, because God wanted to bless you and make each one of you turn away from your sins. (Acts 3 CEV)
As we often see in scripture, Luke gives us a very brief synopsis of an event that his readers probably had heard before. Whether the name of the person to whom Luke writes, or an honorary title, which means “friend of God,” Theophilus was not ignorant of the incident. Luke confirmed the stories of Jesus and the early church through first-hand knowledge and many witnesses. This first recorded miracle after the coming of God’s spirit into the lives of Jesus’ followers is familiar.
Peter and John headed to the temple to worship. On their way, the saw, as usual the same lame beggar they saw every time they passed the entrance called the Beautiful Gate. He sat there day after day collecting alms as his only means of survival. Someone brought him to the place in the morning. He sat begging all day to collect the few coins those who took pity on him dropped into his hand, and his friends picked him up and took him home at night. That same ritual continued day after day without end.
When Peter and John stopped that morning and looked into the man’s eyes, though, something different happened. Peter and John had no money. They had nothing to offer except what God’s spirit in them prompted Peter to announce to the man – healing. But not just physical healing. If you read the verses carefully, you’ll find he was made whole, complete, healed in the sense of his body, mind, and spirit renewed and cleansed as the Jews would have understood healing. He could walk when he had never walked before, but his sins were forgiven. He became complete by God’s spirit living in him. God renewed him.
The miracle got people’s attention. Those coming and going around the gate and who saw the man who they recognized as the beggar from years of passing by him began to gather around to find out how this happened. Now Peter had an audience. And Peter, never one to be shy, began to preach. “Do you think we did this? Give honor to the one who really did it. He is healed by the name of Jesus. Oh, the one you betrayed. The one you turned against. The one you rejected. The one you killed and let a murder go free instead. But God raised him from the dead. Faith in Jesus made this man whole.
Peter goes on to excuse the leaders of their ignorance of what they did. Paul will later proclaim that if they had known what they were doing, they would not have crucified Jesus. He lays out how Jesus fulfills the role of the Messiah as prophesied in the scriptures. God kept his covenant promises even though we did not.
We broke creation through thinking we could be like God. God promised to fix it. But he chose to do so through the humans who broke it in the first place. The covenant with Abraham promised to bless all nations through him. It promised to multiply his family to an uncountable number. The God’s continued covenants with Israel and David told of a king who would rule the earth. Every nation and every person would bow to him. The Messiah would free them from exile. But their view of the Messiah then, didn’t match the Messiah Peter described. They lived in a broken world. One ruled by violence, physical power, so they expected their Messiah to rule with the same harsh character.
Jesus came in peace. God’s plan to make the world right didn’t include the violent overthrow of world empires. He already kept them in control. He created all things in the first place. Jesus, his Son, could calm storms with the sound of his voice. He could heal with the touch of his hand. He could drive demons out of people and into pigs on command. God didn’t need violence to subdue the nations of the world. He already ruled them. Instead, he came as a gentle shepherd. He allowed himself to be wounded, broken, insulted, humiliated, crucified to show the power of love.
In doing so, Jesus overcame humanity’s curse – death. He defeated death and the power we had given to idolatry. We made figures of wood and stone and invested our worship into these man-made figures instead of worshiping the God of creation. We still worship idols and cause untold pain in the world. Our idols today may not look like the figures of gold and stone from Peter’s day, but we worship money, power, sex, jobs, positions, fame, celebrity, sports, possessions, a host of idols that keep us chained to the curse Jesus defeated for our sake when we believe in him for redemption.
Jesus pronounced a new covenant with his disciples during his last meal with them. He had fulfilled the promises of the old, and he gave his disciples a new covenant that included all who believed in him for salvation. God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven would begin with his death on the cross. He was the King of all kings. All people of every nations were invited to come and kneel at the cross. All who believed in him as the Messiah could become members of this new covenant. All could find freedom from the powers that held them hostage to sin and death and decay eternally. They could find new life in him.
Peter’s sermon to those assembled that day echoed the new covenant. God spoke through the prophets to Israel. “But God had his prophets tell that his Messiah would suffer, and now he has kept that promise. So turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven.”
The message hasn’t changed in 2000 years. It is as fresh and true today as it was for those Peter addressed in the temple court that day. Jesus still forgives. He still gives new life to those will believe. All it takes is trusting in him. Do it today.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked CEV are taken from the CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION (CEV): Scripture taken from the CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION copyright© 1995 by the American Bible Society. Used by permission.