The Lame & the Lost (Acts 3)
Healing the Lame in Jesus’ Name (verses 1-10)
The lame beggar positioned himself on the steps of the temple because he was taking advantage of the wrong notion of the religious Jews, since most worshipers assumed that their giving to the needy was meritorious. It’s likely that most people passing by would have been unwilling even to make eye contact with the beggar, so it must have been initially encouraging for him that Peter started a conversation, but these high hopes were quickly dashed when Peter confessed that he had neither silver nor gold to give him. However, the disappointment didn’t last long once Peter revealed that what he did have would heal the beggars lame body. The lame man was not only physically healed, but saved. He went away “praising God” (3:8-9) and was later found standing alongside the disciples (4:14)
It’s important that we do not take this story as suggesting that we should not offer physical or material assistance to those in need. In fact, due to this man being healed he could now work and provide for himself, which he was never able to do before. While we are to prioritize the spiritual needs, prioritizing does not equal a prohibition of meeting physical needs (1 John 3:17). This lame man not only experienced both physical and spiritual healing, but his healing also serves as a promise for all who witness it that there is a day coming when all results of the Fall will one day be reckoned with. We have the foretaste of promise now and full reality later.
– Why is it important to care for the physical needs of those around us? What opportunities do you have to meet the physical needs of people you know? How might you also seek to meet the spiritual needs of those individuals?
Saving the Lost in Jesus’ Name (verses 11-26)
In Peter’s address he shows the continuity of the Old Testament by pointing out that it is “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, [who] has glorified His servant Jesus” (3:13). He is not presenting some new deity, but proving that the God they claim to worship has fulfilled His promise made through Isaiah to exalt His servant (Isaiah 52:13). In just a couple of sentences Peter has taken all the attention off of the miraculous healing and away from the apostles who performed it, by bringing Christ into the center as the primary emphasis. He points out that they disowned the “Holy and Righteous One” in order to have a murderer released. They are sons of the covenant and yet they rejected the One who came to ratify the covenant for them!
Returning to the miraculous healing (3:16), Peter clarifies that the power was in the name of Jesus and the effectiveness was by faith in Him. In other words, the miracle was accomplished by Jesus Himself, the very One they sought to rid themselves of. Though they were ignorant in what they were doing at the time, God was not, but instead “the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (3:18). God used their foolishness to fulfill His own perfect purposes, which ultimately offered forgiveness to the very ones who were guilty!
The predictions and prophecies, however, would not save them—they must repent! Upon repenting, a three-fold blessing would result (3:19-21): (1) sins wiped away (past), (2) times of refreshing from Christ’s presence (present), (3) God will send Christ (future). On the other hand, if they do not repent, then those who attempted to destroy Jesus will be destroyed by Him (3:23). Peter reminds the Jews that it was for them first that the Savior was sent, and that He came for the purpose of turning them away from their wicked ways.
– The world today has no more interest in hearing the diagnosis of their sin or the summons to repentance than did the temple crowd that day. What lies do the unrepentant believe that keep them from bowing the knee to Christ? Why would someone reject the One to whom God has commanded all to listen and the only one who offers the forgiveness of sins and times of refreshing? What keeps us, even as Christians, from being quick to repent and listen to the words of Jesus?