Title: “Some Snapshots At The Temple”
Text: Acts 3:1-10
Introduction: In our message we would like to consider that we are viewing some snapshots that someone has taken while touring the city of Jerusalem. Upon their tour they happen upon a very gorgeous place. It is the temple, and it is buzzing with activity because it is the hour of prayer. At first, they began to take some pictures of the building; for it’s architecture and beauty is breathtaking. While taking the photographs they notice a beggar there at the gate and their attention begins to focus on him and the activities surrounding him. Before the day is over they have a real montage of pictures chronicling the events that transpired that day. After they arrive back home from their trip they rush out and develope their film and carefully label each picture while they put them in their photo album in the order in which they were taken. The pictures are more than just pictures. As you look at them in the order in which they were taken a story begins to unfold. It would seem that by glancing at the first snapshot that it is going to be a sad story indeed; however, as you continue to about the third snapshot things begin to look more hopeful.
Today we would like to look into this photo album and consider what each of these “snapshots at the temple” has to say. Consider them with me in the order in which they were taken:
I. The first snapshot is labeled “The Man That Was Crippled”. (V.2)
“2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful…”
Look closely at what we see in this particular snapshot:
A. We see a picture of a case that is Specific.
The picture before us does not depict the masses of humanity; only one individual is seen in the photograph. He is a “certain” man.
So often, while endeavoring to reach the lost, we forget the individual needs of those in this world and cater only to the multitudes. Do not ever forget that within the multitude there are individuals who individually have specific needs. While it is true that Jesus touched the lives of a multitude of people while he was in this world, it is equally true that he worked on, in, and through the lives of individuals within the multitudes. Please do not ever become so overcome with reaching the lost in this world, that you forget the lost man, woman, boy, or girl living in your own community. Don’t let yourself become vague and impersonal in soul – winning. Always remember that there are certain people all around you that need to know about Jesus and his saving power.
B. We see a picture of a case that is Sad.
The picture before us does not depict a man who is glowing with the radiance of good health. On the contrary quite the opposite is true. Oh sure, if you just look at him from his waist up he may look healthy enough, but as you direct your gaze upon his legs you quickly see that this man has a serious problem. His legs are withered and seem to have no strength within them. How sad is his case. The very thing that would give him the ability to move from place to place is lacking, and according to our text he has been this way from birth. He cannot go for help; he is totally dependent upon someone coming to him to help.
Does this not adequately depict those of this world who are lost? Just as this man was born lame, people are born as lost, sinful beings. Just as this man was destitute and needy, the lost are destitute of any righteousness and in need of righteousness (Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:). Just as this man was helpless within himself, the lost are helpless within their self. Just as this man was separated by his condition from fellowship inside the temple, those who are lost are separated in their fellowship with God and his children (I John 1:3-8 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.). Just as this man’s hope totally rests in someone else, those who are lost must hope in someone else for their help. The Bible says in the book of Romans, “There is none that seeketh after God”. Why is that? Because the lost do not have the ability, nor do they have the desire to. Our Hope and help is found in the book of Luke, where we read, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”. The lost are very much like this lame man who has no strength to do anything for himself, but oh what love is seen in the undertakings of Jesus on our behalf (Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly).
II. The second snapshot is labeled “The Members Who Were Careless” (V.2)
As we consider this snapshot we can only think of how the tourist what the tourist must have thought as they watched the reaction of the people going into the temple that day.
A. I am sure the photographer must have Seen their Total Disregard for this beggar.
Can you imagine the disbelief that had to be upon the face of the tourist as they snapped this picture? They could hardly believe that these fine religious people would totally overlook this man by walking by, or stepping over him to get into the temple. These were people who were supposed to know God.
Can you see the parallel to our day? Unfortunately as Christians, we to walk by people in grave spiritual need every day. Do we even notice them, or do we show them total disregard? Do you realize that the lost are watching you to see how you treat the lost? How much concern do we have today for those who are spiritually lame.
B. I am sure the photographer must have Sensed their Terrible Disdain for this beggar.
Not only did they show great disregard toward this beggar, I believe that there was probably great disdain shown toward this beggar. I can hear them now, “Couldn’t this parasite on society find another place to beg! He is so filthy and haggardly looking. We don’t want people like that hanging around here. He is a blight upon the gorgeous appearance of our beautiful temple!”
Have you ever heard of that attitude in today’s world? As sad as it is, that attitude is very much alive in today’s world among some of the supposed children of God. Do you remember the remark that was made by the religious crowd of the day that was intended to be slanderous toward Jesus? They tried to slander his name by saying that he was “a friend of publicans and sinners”. Thank God he was, and still is. I am so glad that he loved me and gave himself for me while I was yet a sinner, because until he did, that was all that I could ever be.
III. The third snapshot is labeled “The Men Who Were Compassionate” (V.3-6)
Careful examination of this snapshot shows us that there are some people in the world in whom a great love of Jesus Christ has awakened a great love for everyman. I can only imagine how refreshing it must have been for the photographer to see these two men come along after observing all of the others.
Consider two thoughts with me regarding these two men:
A. Consider what was Shown to the cripple by these two men.
When Peter told the lame man to look upon him and John, what was it that he wanted him to focus on? We do not believe for a moment that Peter wanted this man to look upon him or John in order to merely see them. I believe that he wanted to get his attention off the religious environment around him and on the Christ within them that could help him. Could we dare make such a statement as Peter? Could we tell others that looking upon us would be as it were to look upon Jesus himself? Is his reflection that clear in the mirror of our life?
When this man looked upon Peter and John He saw something about them that was truly different from all the others that he had been looking upon; he saw concern, compassion, and confidence because he saw Christ Jesus our Lord who was his only hope.
B. Consider what was Shared with the cripple by these two men.
Others may have dropped a coin or two into his cup occasionally as they passed by, but Peter and John were getting ready to share something much greater with him than silver and gold. The problem with the silver and gold was that it only took care of the outside. What he was getting ready to get from Peter and John would take care of the inside; that’s where the problem really was.
The sharing done by Peter and John calls to mind a couple of thoughts that I feel like is worthy of mentioning. First, sharing implies possession. You cannot share that which you do not possess. Second, sharing involves plenty. You can only share that which is in plenteous supply because that which is found to be in short supply will not go far. The salvation of the Lord is plenteous to all who will call upon him.
IV. The fourth snapshot is labeled “The Miracle That Was Communicated” (V.7)
As we gaze t this particular photograph we cannot help but be amazed at what has happened in the life of this beggar. According to this picture, there is no denying that an absolute miracle has just taken place.
The miracle is clearly at least a two-part miracle. Those two parts are:
A. He was miraculously Saved.
He was in a terrible situation in the first picture, however; things have drastically changed. He who was once diseased is made whole. He is fully and instantaneously changed into that which he had never been in his entire life.
So it is with the individual who is stained through and through with the crimson staining disease called sin. Once the miracle of salvation has been communicated to them through the Son of God, they to are instantaneously changed into that which they have never been before (II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.)
B. He was miraculously Strengthened.
He was not only saved from his sad state of being, he was also strengthened to do something that he had never been able to do before. He was given strength in his feet and ankle bones in order to be able to walk.
In a lost state nobody can walk for God. They do not have the strength that is needed. However; when someone gets born again they are imparted strength in order to walk for God (Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.).
V. The fifth snapshot is labeled “The Master That Was Celebrated”. (V.8)
Now that this beggar received that which he could have never fathomed, credit must be given to whom credit is due. What a happy man we see in this snapshot.
A. Notice how Cheerful his praise was.
He is seen leaping for joy in this picture. There is no doubt about the level of this man’s joy; his actions alone speak volumes.
B. Notice how Careful his praise was.
We see him carefully directing his praise where praise belonged. We do not see him praising Peter and John; we see him praising God and him alone.
VI. The Sixth and final snapshot is labeled “The Multitude That Was Confounded. (VV. 9-10)
It is clear by the faces seen in this last picture that the people are absolutely astonished at the event that has taken place this day. As you focus more sharply upon each individual in the multitude two things are visible.
A. Their Astonishment is clearly seen.
By the look upon their faces, one would draw the conclusion that they had never before saw a lame man walking and leaping. They were left in wonder according to our text.
So it is with those of the world when they see a man that they have known who truly gets saved.
B. Their Attentiveness is clearly seen.
Here is a man whom they never gave any attention before who has become the foremost center of their attention.
So it is with the individual who is born again through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He may have never gotten much attention before, but now that he is saved, it would seem that all eyes are upon him.
Conclusion: It is my prayer that you will carefully review each one of these snapshots and see if you can see your face in one of them. It is highly possible that you are in one of them. The big question is which picture are you in, and exactly who are you in the picture. Are you like this beggar in his first snapshot? If so, there is hope for you in Jesus. Are you like these members who were going to church who were careless of those around them in need, or are you like Peter and John who were compassionate toward those in need. If you can ever identify yourself I believe that you will know what you need to do.