Summary: A series of character sketches in the book of Acts - the crippled beggar of Acts 3.
Acts 3:1-10 – God’s Power Through God’s People #4: The Crippled Beggar
Today we are continuing our series through the book of Acts. Today’s message would have been appropriate last week for Thanksgiving, but it suits fine today too. Today we are looking at a story of healing found in Acts 3. Turn with me and let’s read 3:1-10.
I read about a time that an evangelist came to a church. Part of his ministry was the laying on of hands and praying for the sick, and there was a long line to see him. Next in line was a pre-teen boy. The boy said he wanted prayer for his hearing.
So, according his usual custom, the evangelist grabbed the boy’s ears and said a powerful prayer, calling upon God to touch the lad’s ears and restore his abilities.
After the prayer, the evangelist let go and asked, "Well, boy, how’s your hearing now?''
The boy said, "I don't know... my hearing’s not till Friday."
That’s a silly joke, but it’s appropriate to the story for today. Someone came looking for help with one thing, but someone else had other plans. Let’s look at this guy who was pleasantly surprised with what he received. Let’s also look at how what happened to him can serve to inspire us in our walks with God too.
Let’s set the stage a little. The year is likely 30AD. Jesus collected His disciples after He had died and risen from the grave. He said that power from heaven would be given to them so that they could change the world for God, and to make it a better place. I’d like to say that the church has always used power for good, but that wouldn’t be right. Power tends to bring out the best, as well as the worst, in people. But in the early days of the church, His disciples used power only for good. Including this incident.
The number of people who are trusting in Jesus is growing everyday, as Acts 2:47 tells us. Every day, people are giving their hearts to God. It’s an exciting time. There is such a feeling of enthusiasm about what God is doing, and one more person is about to become part of it. You’ll notice that he is unnamed, considering how much of his story is told to us. There are some characters mentioned in the Bible by name, with a lot less story connected to them. But we will see ourselves in his story. Sure, our details will be different from this man’s, but the same pattern in his life was, is, and should be ours.
The 1st thing we see about this fellow is that 1) he was damaged. He was lame from birth, crippled from the time of his delivery into this world. We are not told why this happened. At the time, people often blamed things like this on sin: the father sinned, the mother sinned, something like that.
What’s funny is that people still often do that. We have the story of Job, whose tragic life arrived on his doorstep, not because he was sinful, and not because God was trying to teach him something. Bad things happened in his life – death of loved ones, natural disasters, loss of almost everything that was important to him – because the enemy wanted to steal his soul. But still, people want to blame Hurricane Katrina on the sinfulness of New Orleans, or the Asian tsunami on the Muslims’ persecution of Christians, or 9-11 on the sinfulness of the US.
I think it would be arrogant of me to say that God had nothing to do with any of these things, but I think it’s equally arrogant to blame everything on God or sin. Frankly, you don’t know God’s mind, but you can know that He loves you. Lots of bad things have been blamed on God over the years, and I think it has done serious damage to His reputation. If people would get as angry at sin as they do at God, there would probably be a lot less damage in the world.
That’s the damage that we face, like the poor guy in the story. We too are damaged. Sin has injured us. We are weak, foolish, tired, ashamed, afraid, and guilty. We cannot stand. We need help. And it’s been that way since we were born. As members of the human race, we have what we call a fallen nature. We are prone to sin. We have a bent, a leaning, a desire to do what we know we shouldn’t. Born to sin, then get caught in it. That’s the damage we all have.
This fellow’s physical damage caused him to need to beg. He couldn’t look after himself. He needed others to provide for him, even to carry him to where he needed to be. His damage made him count on others’ generosity to get him through life. He had to beg, in order to survive. Well, Peter and John came along, and obviously, the guy begged. He asked them for what he needed.