Up until this point, when it came to performing miracles, it had been the Jesus show. He was the one healing people, casting out demons, and feeding thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a couple fish. Most of the disciples throughout these different situations had been skeptical for the most part but a few at different points even tried to perform a miracle on their own but were unable to because of their lack of faith.
Now though, since the time that Jesus ascended to heaven and left the disciples, they have gotten off their butts and obeyed Jesus. They have prepared to be used by God by hanging out in His presence and praying. And the Holy Spirit has come upon them in power at Pentecost just as Jesus had promised them many times.
When the spirit came, it attracted many, many people to come and see what was going on and the disciples professed Christ in word and deed. Throughout the rest of chapter 2 we have a picture of the words that one of the disciples professed. Peter gets up in front of everyone and shouts to the crowd, outlining to them what the Old Testament taught about Jesus, how Jesus had been killed on the cross but now was risen from the dead. It was so powerful that Acts 2:41 tells us about 3,000, think about that number, 3,000, believed, got baptized, and were added to the church that day.
As far as the deeds that they used to express the love of Christ we don’t have much recorded here. Acts 2:43 tells us “the apostles preformed many miraculous signs and wonders” but they don’t give us details. Because of the lack of detail that Luke provided, we should sit up and take notice of the fact that in Acts 3, Luke starts off with a very detailed account of a man being healed some time after Pentecost.
Let’s open our Bibles to that story in Acts 3:1-11.
***Read Acts 3:1-11***
Listen to verse 1 again here. “Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service.” Notice here that the disciples are still together. Just because the Holy Spirit has done amazing works in their lives didn’t cause them to run off and become individual spiritual superheroes. Instead, they are still partnered together for Christ.
Another big thing to notice is that they are still committed to prayer. This actually would have been the second time that day the disciples went to the Temple to go and pray. The Jews had three prayer meetings throughout the day, one at 9:00am, one at 3:00pm, and then one in the evening at sunset. Just because the Holy Spirit had come they didn’t stop hanging out in God’s presence. They still expected to be used and prepared themselves in prayer!
The last thing that we need to notice here from verse one is the fact that the disciples didn’t get carried away because of what happened. I think a lot of times when we have a powerful experience with God or see Him do amazing things in someone’s life we have a tendency to get ahead of God and start asking some deep questions that prevent us from doing more for God. There are three of these types of questions that I think come up in this passage that I want to look at tonight.
The first question is, Why do bad things happen if God is so good? In verse 2 we find that this lame man had a pretty miserable life. “As [Peter and John] approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple.”
This man had been crippled since birth which would have made things very difficult. Keep in mind, they didn’t have the medical knowledge that we have today and would have been an outcast in society. Because of his disability, he wouldn’t have been able to work which was why he had to beg. Day after day after day, this man sat outside the Temple and asked people for money. Why would a good God allow this to happen?
When we see God do something powerful and might we often think, “If God is that powerful, then why doesn’t he just fix everything that is wrong with the world?” As we think about this often times in our minds we are lead to think then that God must not be totally good because he allows bad things to happen. But that is not the case. To answer this question lets jump over to the book of John 9:1-3.
Here we read, “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’ ‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus quickly answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.’” Moments later this man is healed and becomes a believer in Christ.
The good God that we follow allows bad things to happen so that the power of God can be seen. If this man had not been blind, we would not have been healed thus showing Jesus’ power and love to him and his whole community. This same thing is true of the lame man in Acts as well as in our lives.
When something is going wrong in our lives or just perceives to be an awful situation have faith that God is control. For some reason He is allowing it to happen to bring something amazing from it.
The second question that could be raised is, Why won’t God change things now? A lot of the times, when we see God do something amazing in us or through our lives, we kind of get this attitude that we want everything done right away. We think that we can just ask God to do something and He will do it right away when we want. When he doesn’t comply we start to get frustrated and question our own faith or wonder if God is just playing games with us.
As we read already, this lame man was put beside the Temple every day. Think about what that means? Who else would have gone by the Temple tons of times? Jesus! Think about how many people that Jesus healed in just His three years of ministry. The Bible says that he healed thousands, yet I wonder how many times Jesus walked by this man at the Beautiful Gate.
The really neat thing about this passage is when you look at the Greek word that is used for the word “Beautiful.” The word can mean to blossom or the right time. When you think of a flower blooming it becomes most beautiful when it has opened. Everything works together; the sun, dirt, water, and the biology of the flower, to make it beautiful at the climax of its life.
When you think of this in terms of the gate that the man was sitting at, a more direct translation for it is “The Right Time Gate.” If Jesus had healed the man earlier he would not have been there for Peter and John to heal him. Everything came together at just the right time that this man was healed and helped add a few more thousand people to the church.
When God doesn’t act right away we need to trust that He knows what He is doing and that He will work in his timing.
The third and final question that comes up is similar to the second, and that is, Why won’t God give me what I need? This is a very easy question to start asking. God has been doing a lot in your life, you are sacrificing left and right for Him and obeying what He asks. You read the scriptures that say “whatever you ask for in my name will be given to you” and so you start asking. You ask for help you with your grades because you haven’t had a lot of time to study. You ask for a car so you can use it for church stuff, you know. After a while you have a whole list of things that you need, so you ask God for them too. What makes the situation even worse is when you see people around you, who aren’t really following God or trusting Him, getting all sorts of stuff handed to them on a silver platter. But when God doesn’t start throwing things your way, you start to think God is ignoring you and doesn’t care about you.
Let’s pick up at verse 3 to help with this question. “When he [the lame man] saw Peter and John, he asked them for some money.” Why? Because that was what he needed. He was poor, couldn’t work, didn’t have food…he needed money. “Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money.” “Alight!” he thought. “These guys are going to give me some money.”
“But Peter said, ‘I don’t have any silver or gold for you.” Imagine the lame man’s thoughts right now. “What are you bothering me for then!! Can you see that all I need is money you jerk!” Peter continues, “But [that very important word] I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
Peter then took the man by the hand and helped him up. The man was instantly healed. The man began to walk as all that was happening sunk in. He then began leaping as in sunk in even more. Then he began praising and worshipping God as he went into the Temple to go and pray with the disciples.
Sometimes what we think we need isn’t at all what we really need. Sometimes it is exactly the opposite. No where in the Bible does it say when we follow Jesus we will get everything we want and have a comfortable life. We again, need to put our faith in God, that he knows what is best for us and what we truly need.
These questions are all normal questions that I am sure many here tonight have all thought about before. I’m sure we will all be challenged by them at many times throughout our lives. We can’t let them push us away from God though and prevent us from doing what He is calling us to do. We instead need to be like the disciples, who even though they still didn’t understand everything, acted out of faith knowing God is in control of even the bad things in life, trusting that God will work at the right time which will be absolutely beautiful and amazing, and understanding that God promises to meet our real needs even if we have a different perception.