In the Name of Jesus
- Be amazed at the power of Jesus' name.
- Imagine and describe how the man who couldn't walk felt before and after he was healed.
- Tell how Jesus' name brings healing and hope to our lives.
Back at the very beginning of Acts, Luke said he would continue the story of all that Jesus "began to do and to teach." So we can expect what we read here to be a continuation of Jesus' ministry---what Jesus continues to do and teach through the apostles. With the sending of the Holy Spirit, the disciples are empowered to continue the ministry of their risen and ascended Lord.
One of the things we might expect from the continued ministry of Jesus is healing, which was so central to Jesus' life and work. Through his ministry of healing people, Jesus demonstrated that the kingdom of God had come near.
Here are Peter and John entering the temple for prayers. (Notice how much of the life and worship of the early Jerusalem church centered around the temple---before it was destroyed in AD 70.) Because Jews were required to give alms as part of their religious obligations, the temple gate was a very good spot for a beggar. This beggar solicited Peter and John along with all the other temple visitors.
Luke tells the story with characteristic attention to detail. He explains that Peter looked straight at the beggar and demanded that he look back at them. After years of demeaning begging, the man had probably learned to keep his eyes downcast---better for him and better for business. When called to attention, he naturally expected a big handout from these two visitors.
Imagine his disappointment when Peter says, "Silver and gold I do not have. . . ." And then picture his puzzlement when he is practically ordered to stand up and walk in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The beggar obviously needed some more encouragement, so Peter reached out his hand to help the man stand.
The beggar felt new energy surge through his nerves and muscles, and he jumped to his feet. As soon as he steadied himself, he began to walk and jump and dance, praising God. Soon everybody knew the amazing news. This man had sat in the same place at the temple gate for years with those downcast eyes, waiting for a handout. And now he was dancing all over the place!
The apostles never put a crowd to waste, so Peter began to preach many of the same points he had made to the Pentecost crowd. This time he emphasized that this man was healed through the power of Jesus and by faith in the name of Jesus. In other words, he was saying, "This is not about us, it's about Jesus."
There are a couple of unique and remarkable things about Peter's sermon on this occasion. He talks about what had happened to Jesus---the ascension---more clearly: "Heaven must receive him." It's as if there had to be a celebration in heaven to receive the victorious Lamb (Rev. 4 and 5). Then he points to the end of time as the time for God to "restore everything."
In the end, everything will be restored, made new again. And it's obvious that restoring this beggar to health and to dignity was a sign of this final restoration
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