Summary: The Practicing (serving) Church is a: Philanthropic Church, Proclaiming Church,Persecuted Church, Protected Church, Praising Church, Praying Church, and aPowerful Church
(Excerpt from Peter Marshall—"Were you there")
("The [afternoon sun was sliding into its gentle decline] over the City of David. Already pilgrims, and visitors pouring in through [the north and south gates of the Temple; elbowing their way past those milling around in the grand court yards and those congregating under the shade of Solomon’s Colonnade.] There were the aged, stooped with years, muttering to themselves as they pushed through the throngs, and there were children playing…calling to each other in shrill voices [as they ran in and out of, and in-between dozens of adult islands scattered throughout the court of the Gentiles and the steps that led into the Court of Israel.] There were men and women too, carrying burdens, baskets of vegetables, casks of wine, water bags. And there were trademen with their tools. And there, under a narrow canopy, a merchant shouted his wares in a pavement stall.") And here, as we pass through the Gentile court, and ascend the steps into the court of Israel, we prepare to enter the temple Gate called Beautiful…to enter into God’s house…to be near to the awesome glory and splendor of the Creator…to worship and pray… here to the left, and there to the right are the afflicted…the crippled…the handicapped…the blind…the feeble minded…the twisted…the paraplegic… the withered…
One who has been crippled from birth is being carried…at forty years old… to the temple gate by his family…just like he is everyday…to beg from those going into the temple courts to pray.
Before you can look away…he looks your way. Before you can look away…he asks for some money. Before you can look away… your friend grabs you just above the elbow and says, "Do you remember what Jesus did at times like this?" Turning to your friend you see that mischievous grin creeping up the sides of his face. And strangely, you’re inspired by the thought. What would Jesus do?
It’s no accident that these kind of people littered the beautiful ornamental gates that led into the presence of God. It’s no accident. Who have you served today? As you enter into your private place of prayer daily, who are the beggars at your gate? Whose faces do you see? What physical, emotional, spiritual needs populate the steps as you push passed all the busy-ness and clutter of your job and family to make your way into the Holy of Holies within your heart?
In Acts chapter 3, we see Peter and John on their way to the temple to pray. And as they are working their way through the crowd, a beggar is being carried to the gate to beg. He sees them- and calls out for some money… a hand-out…
The cry for help is heard by Jesus’ own. And Jesus’ own don’t have a dime to spare. Let’s note that this man doesn’t harass Peter and John. There are hundreds here. His cry is to anyone who will hear and respond. He has asked Jesus’ own, but he is asking anyone and everyone with an ear to hear and a cent to spare. Let’s note that, because verse 4 tells us that Peter and John looked him square in the eye and said, "Look at us."
When Jesus did something for people, He did with purpose and intent. When someone came to him, "Lord, my daughter’s sick…" "Take me to her…" or "Never mind, I’ve already taken care of it."
"Hey, Philip, did you notice how many folks we have here on this hill…about 5,000…they’ve got to be hungry…let’s feed ‘em."
Only one time do we see Jesus being "surprised"…Mark 5:30.
Jesus was on a mission. He never pursues the spiritual issues of a person’s life until he meets the physical or emotional need. Jesus knew that the carnal mind, the mind unchanged by God’s grace, has its focus locked on the needs of the body: Hunger, hurt, helplessness…How do convince a man that his soul is condemned and headed straight for hell unless he accepts God’s grace by faith—when his daughter is dying of cancer? – When the last meal he ate was scraped out of somebody’s trash can? -- When he’s trapped in a bottle? -- When his home is filled with people who hate him; who keep a log of every moral and financial failure? When his wife is filing for divorce? -- When he’s been out of work for a month? When he can’t pay his rent? When he’s trapped in a wheelchair because his limbs don’t respond to his brain anymore? How do you expect a man to fear a hell he’s never seen when he’s living in a hell everyday?
There’s only one way to get their attention. Jesus knew what it was. Meet the need. Heal the wound. Satisfy the hunger. Embrace the unloved.