Monday, July 25, 2016

Acts 3 : "NO OTHER NAME!"

[1] Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. [2] And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. [3] Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. [4] And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” [5] And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. [6] But Peter said, “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!” [7] And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. [8] And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. [9] And all the people saw him walking and praising God, [10] and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

[11] While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. [12] And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? [13] The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. [14] But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, [15] and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. [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.

[17] “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. [18] But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. [19] Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, [20] that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, [21] 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. [22] Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. [23] And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ [24] And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. [25] You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ [26] God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3 ESV)

OUTLINE OF ACTS 3

(i)                 A miracle is performed in the Name of Jesus (3:1 – 10) 
(ii)               A  message expounds the name of Jesus (3:11 – 26)

1.      A MIRACLE  IS PERFORMED IN THE NAME OF JESUS

Peter and John are  on their way to a  3 p.m. prayer meeting at the temple, when they come across this beggar at the temple gate called “Beautiful”.
Note the location where the beggar sits. He sat at the entrance of the temple gate, with people passing by on their way  to  prayer. It was a good, lucrative  spot  to sit  and beg.  The people’s consciences were soft.
This  raises a profound question. Why  this picture of a  human wretch  at the  beautiful temple gate?  
Surely this is  ironic.  
Why is the world like this? 
Why do we daily  read in newspapers &  see on T.V. ‘s such terrible accounts of human misery and suffering. 
Does God care?
And  to add injury to insult, consider the  plight of this man. By God’s law in Leviticus 21:16 – 20, being a man with a blemish  he was shut out from the temple!  There was no wheel chair ramp to the temple! There was no provision made for the disabled in the O.T. economy!  This man would have known all about that! Is God indifferent to the sufferings of such people?

We shall seek to answer this question later.

Vv. 4 &5 :

Peter and John did not avoid the crippled beggar at the gate. Peter said to  him:  “Look at us!”
He  did not ignore him.
He made eye contact.
He got the man’s attention.
He gave him a  command.   In v. 6 we find Peter’s famous quote :  “ 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!”

Cash, compassion and  care can only  lend temporary relief to this man’s suffering. But it cannot solve his ultimate  problem. What the man needs is to be helped in a significant way. But nobody can be humanly helped in that condition, except a miracle should happen to him. 
He would need Jesus (the Creator of his body) to deal with Him!

At this point I want to remind you of something  important ! If all that the Christian gospel can offer  us of in the light of this world’s suffering  is that we should be good Samaritans, and attempt our best to give  cash, compassion and care, then we do not have much of a gospel!  Christianity  is much more  than  good works.  If Christianity were simply  good works , it would be no different from other religions, and it would fall short  of what Jesus  came to do  for the world.  Good works alone  robs the Christian gospel of its power!
The gospel is much, much bigger  than  cash, care and compassion. 
The essence of the Christian gospel is not primarily  about  human care, compassion and  cash – important as that might be ! The essence of the Christian gospel is  so to present Jesus to people, that they might look at Him  and that  He might deal with them in ultimate terms.
Peter said in effect, “I don’t have cash, but I have Jesus”…  “In the Name of Jesus – the  Messiah from Nazareth – walk!”
The essence of our witness is to present Jesus to sinful, broken people!

What do we see  then  as Jesus is presented in this manner?  We see a real miracle! Here was a man who was crippled from birth (3:2).
He had never walked!  
But now,  we see  that  the man’s feet and ankles instantly grew strong (3:7).
He  jumped to his feet and he began to walk , and  to jump and to  praise God! (3:8). A true miracle!

But here is the greater miracle.  He that was never allowed into the temple would now be allowed to go in!
Now get this point. The  real answer to this man’s problem   was  not   receiving a  ‘miracle’. The problems of this world are not going to be met by receiving your miracle as the local faith healers would advertise. The answer is neither  in the miracle which he might   receive  or  the money which he may get.  The true  answer is Jesus!  He was receiving Jesus . In the Name of JESUS, WALK! And he was going to do so much more  than  walking . He was praising God. He was giving glory to  God! (3:9) 

The stage is now for the sermon  or explanation which Peter  gives in reply.

2.      THE MESSAGE WHICH EXPOUNDS THE NAME OF JESUS :

The people are astonished!  
See Peter’s reply in v. 12! “Men of Israel why does this surprise you?”
And immediately he addresses the issue that the  people are thinking about.
The people think that this has something to do with Peter and John’s power.
The people’s  focus is on the men, and not on the power that moves these men.
But Peter says: “Don’t look at us! Look at God! Look at Jesus!”    We  are vehicles (means) , but the power is of God (v. 13)

Why has God done this outstanding miracle  through Peter and John?
V. 13 provides the answer.  
God  has wanted to glorify His Son Jesus in this instance.  God  wanted to show  the world  the  other true nature  of  Jesus – the  God - nature that was consistently  resisted  by  the Jews and their leaders ! 
As a result  they  had  denied Him  (3: 13, 14)  and killed  Him (3:15).
They thought  that they had gotten rid of Him!  
But God has raised Him from the dead! (3:15b) Truly Jesus’ name is glorified by this! 
The healing is attributed to Jesus  and more glory  is brought  to His name. 

THE KEY QUESTION ARISES NOW :
We marvel at the  miraculous healing of this man.  
But why do so many other people not get healed? 
What was the purpose of this healing if all  do not get healed ?

3:21  KEY VERSE TO THE QUESTION :  "...that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, [21] 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..."

Jesus is the Restorer of all things. Why not now  and for all people  at this time?   Note that  this healing is spoken of as in the future! Now the question again : Why does Jesus not heal everybody?
 The plain answer is this : Because  the restoration has not taken place yet.
We are currently  living in the time of  sin and decay.
The perfect has not yet come (1 Cor. 13:10).    
This miracle is a sign of what is yet to be. It is a sign of the coming kingdom.
It is not yet normative.  And so , even in Jesus day, not all the sick, lame and diseased were healed. This is a preview  concerning what  shall yet be  (like a trailer to a movie)

But be assured: On the day when Jesus comes to restore all things, not  one  will be blind.
There will be  no  lame and no  cripples in  the heavenly temple- sanctuary when Jesus restores all things! 
Nobody will enter God’s presence with any defects!
Do you now understand the O.T. picture in Leviticus ? The temple foreshadows the perfect  place called heaven!

Joni Eraeckson Tada, the lady who became a quadriplegic through a swimming accident has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to countless people through her books and testimony. She has never been healed, even though at one time a special ‘healing meeting’ in her earlier days had been arranged.  Joni says  this:  “On resurrection day I will be on my feet dancing!”

Jinelle Judd,  a  young  member of our church in the nineties, with  extreme  disability,  is now with the LORD . On resurrection day  she will  receive  her  perfect  body – praising God with a clear tongue  and clothed in her new resurrection body!)

What is the problem today?
We want to create heaven on earth!  We do not want to adhere to God’s schedule.  Only Jesus will create heaven on earth.  
This healing of the  crippled beggar  must not be expected as normative, it is a sign  and a promise of the coming kingdom!
There is no doubt that the world needs to be fixed.
The question is, who is going to do it?
Are faith healers going to do it?
Are people with kind deeds and cash going to do it?

No, we can only bring temporary relief to this world’s pain!

But we can bring  Jesus to  people and people to Jesus , And when people  believe and trust in Jesus  they are  going to be fine for eternity.  Even if He does not provide us with a miracle for healing now, He will in time  –  in  fact , in the time of the resurrection, when   He  shall restore all things.
It  will  be  a world in which there will be no disability and no disease.

RESPONSE NEEDED?

The Jews made a great mistake. They despised the name of Jesus.
Peter is willing to grant them that they did what they did in ignorance (3:17).
But ignorance is ultimately no excuse in a law court. The soul that sins shall die. What recourse do they  and we have?


REPENT!  [19] Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, [20] that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you..." 
Repentance is  found in looking  to Jesus for the  forgiveness of  your sins.
Repent ! Stop the sin of   trying to create   heaven on earth for yourself now.  It will not   happen until the restoration. Will you be  a part of  Christ's new kingdom?
Repent! Stop the sin of refusing to listen to Jesus now.  
Repent ! Look to Jesus now  and forever , and  know that  He holds the real  future   
  
There is  truly no other name to trust in 

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