WHY DOES THIS SURPRISE YOU?
by John Penn
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One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10)
The healing of this man, crippled from birth, is filled with many biblical and theological truths concerning the healing grace and power of God. First of all, it confirms that the supernatural power of God to heal is still available. God now heals through the church, the body of Christ, in the name of the resurrected Christ. This first, post-resurrection healing miracle, of the crippled man by Peter and John, is significant in the life and ministry of the church. It is a visible sign and is evidence that the healing mantle of Christ has been passed to the church, and also confirms what Jesus had said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring honor to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:12-14).
This healing miracle done to the crippled man, is a revelation of everything Jesus had told his disciples would happen. Peter and John now understand that Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit upon the church, to witness to his real presence in both the church and world: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
This is why Peter and John are so resolute in attributing this healing miracle to the resurrected Christ, whom God has glorified (Acts 3:13). This is something that all healers should acknowledge. None of us can heal apart from the power of God. This should be freeing when we are given the opportunity to pray for the sick, knowing that our power to heal, comes from God. The church heals through the power of God, by faith, and in the name of Jesus Christ. If we understand this, more people will be healed through our ministry. Further, this gives us the confidence that God will heal all manner of sicknesses and diseases through God's people.
Peter preaches a message of faith and hope to those who had witnessed the miraculous healing of the crippled beggar. He makes it clear that it is "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is in Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that gives complete healing to him, as you can all see" (Acts 3:16). He makes it clear that this healing is the work of grace, that this and all healing comes through the redemptive and atoning cross of Jesus Christ. Healing is in the atonement and not in our ability to heal.
These passages of scripture affirm the argument Peter makes concerning the atoning death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, in the healing of this man: "Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5). "He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross,so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases" (Matthew 8:16-17).
Peter makes the case that the same Jesus that the Jewish religious leaders and teachers of the Law rejected, lied on, and had him crucified by the Romans, is the same Jesus Christ whom God raised from the dead, through whom this crippled beggar is healed. Peter points out that the Jewish Scripture foretold, through the prophets, "...that the servant of God would suffer." Peter then says, "Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out" (Acts 3:18-190. He quotes from the prophet Isaiah. (See Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Acts 2:38). It is though this same Christ, that God's healing power has made this man whole. Peter strongly infers that healing and salvation are inseparable. Salvation is ultimate healing. Jesus came not only to forgive the sins of the world, but to save the world from continuing to sin. Salvation is God's ultimate response to all of human brokenness: broken spirits, broken bodies, broken minds, broken relationships, which is the result of a broken creation. Jesus came to restore God's broken creation, to bring healing, wholeness, and salvation.
Jesus Christ's death on the cross atones for all of human brokenness. The healing of the cripple man and all future healings are visible evidence that the resurrected Christ is present within human history. Christ continues to carry out his ministry as God's Messiah, through the church in the world.
Through this unique healing, Peter and John make it clear that the Church represents the real presence of the resurrected Christ. It is through the name of Jesus Christ that we connect human needs to God's amazing power. We don't need silver or gold to do the works of God. Like Peter and John, all we need to do is to exercise bold faith, in the name of the resurrected Christ. This was also foretold by the prophets of old. The church is to continue Jesus Christ's threefold ministry of teaching, preaching and healing.
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