Summary: God can get their attention, but what will you do with it?
There are some things that only happen once in a lifetime. Occurrences that make you stop in your tracks and say to yourself, “I can’t believe that just happened.” Maybe you remember the fall of the Twin Towers or something joyous like the birth of your first child? At the moment, you couldn’t wrap your mind around it. The event was almost surreal. It was an occurrence that will be forever etched in your mind. Today’s scripture is such an event.
READ ACTS 3:12-20
Just prior to today’s text – something happened that made everyone stop and watch in awe. A man who had been crippled from birth; an older man who had begged at the temple gates for decades was miraculously healed! They suddenly saw him “leaping” in the temple courts. They would never forget what happened that day. It was a miracle!
It’s at moments like these – time stopping moments in war, sports, or romance – that a tremendous opportunity arrives. It’s like the blinders of everyday life are stripped from people’s eyes, and they’re so amazed that they’re willing to stop and listen – at least for a moment.
Recently a Heisman Trophy winning Christian quarterback named Tim Tebow won national attention when he played for the Broncos and then for the Jets. He led the Broncos from a 1-4 season to win their first AFC West title and first playoff game since 2005, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. He was in demand everywhere for autographs and speeches. It also happened with the fire-fighters, the police, and the first responders in New York City – those who survived the Twin Towers bombings were in big demand on talk shows and at book fairs. Unfortunately, we often turn these modern day heroes into the golden calves of other times. Sadly, most of the time these heroes can’t help but eat up all the attention. We’re all vain that way – at heart.
All of us have that selfish-magnet within us; that desire for people to see us, to pay attention and listen to what we have to say. We don’t like it when we aren’t recognized for the great job we think we’re doing at work or at home. We get miffed if someone doesn’t say, “Thank you” or pat us on the back. But we sure like those who tell us what great people we are. It shows that, unintentionally or not, we’re self-centered, but when Peter healed the lame man, it was different.
Luke says that “all the people were astonished and came running to them” as if by their own power they had made this man walk. It was one of those moments when everyone stopped what they were doing and were open to hear what happened. Peter had them right where God wanted them, and what did Peter do? What did he say? Did he say, “Oh, it was nothing; the Spirit is just really strong in me.” ….. Not at all.
Instead, he said, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. … By faith in the name of Jesus, this man … was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him….”
Peter would not allow the focus to be on himself. Instead, he testified to the true source of the miracle. It was Jesus! Peter didn’t just say that Jesus was “a nice guy and a great humanitarian” – he went far beyond that.
With great detail Peter told them that Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus was the “Holy and Righteous One” and the “author of life.” Peter was saying, “You want to know who did this? It was Jesus! YOUR GOD approved of Jesus through His resurrection. He lived a perfect life, and He actually created life as we know it. He is now risen and alive! You Can’t Even Hope to Contain Him. That’s who did it!” Instead of pointing to himself, Peter pointed to Christ.
Opportunities like that don’t come by too often – that people actually look up to you and are willing to hear what you have to say. But they do come. Maybe when your child asks you about God and trusts what you have to say is the Gospel truth. Maybe it’s a co-worker who knows that you’re a “religious person”, and asks, “Do you believe there’s life after death?” Once in a while in life, people’s blinders are removed, and they honestly look to you for some answers. It’s then that you have an opportunity to say something worthwhile.
Esther was a Jewish woman chosen by Xerxes to be his queen. She was put in a very difficult position. Her people were about to be exterminated by an evil man named Haman. She was terrified of talking to her “husband” without permission, since she could be put to death for such presumption. But her uncle Mordecai told her, “if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to this royal position for such a time as this?” She needed to take advantage of her situation at once, or God would raise up someone else to take her place. You need to think of your own life and your own opportunities the same way.