All Peter had was the name of the long expected Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, but there was great power in the name of Jesus, and with that name a man was healed.
Today’s first lesson is from the third chapter of the Book of Acts. A few weeks after Jesus had risen, perhaps within a few days of the Spirit being given on Pentecost, Peter and John went up to the temple to pray. There they encountered a man who had been lame from birth. There was something wrong with his feet and ankles that kept them from supporting his weight. When he looked at Peter and John hoping to beg some money off them, Peter surprised him by healing him so that he was able to walk normally.
The man who was healed was well known to those who came regularly to the temple, so his healing attracted a lot of attention. Peter used that attention as an opportunity to proclaim Christ to the those who were there that morning.
One of the things I want you to understand this morning is that Peter had absolutely no interest in making a name for himself and that he absolutely refused to take credit for the man’s healing.
From Peter’s perspective the events of the morning had only one purpose. That was to glorify Jesus.
When Peter healed the man he had said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but I’ll give you what I have, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.”
All Peter had was the name of the long expected Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, but there was great power in the name of Jesus and when Peter had taken the man’s hand to help him up, the man had felt the healing power of Jesus strengthen his feet and ankles as he stood. He was able to walk and leap with joy because Jesus had healed him.
When the crowd gathered, Peter deflected their attention from himself. He said,
“why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus.”Acts 3:12-13
Peter is saying, “Hey folks, we are people just like you. God hasn’t done this because we are unusually holy or because we have some sort of special power. It is God who has done this and he did it to glorify his servant, Jesus the Messiah.”
Moments later he says,
By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.Acts 3:16 NIV
The faith Peter speaks of is trust in the name and power of Jesus. Peter had that faith. It was in that faith that he had told the man to get up and walk. The lame man also had that faith, for it was by faith in the power of Jesus that he received his healing.
Because he was a resident of Jerusalem who was at the temple on a daily basis, the lame man would certainly have heard of Jesus and what he had said and done when he had come to the temple for the various festivals. Word of how Jesus had healed the man who had been born blind and how he had healed the lame man at the pool of Siloam would have circulated among the disabled beggars who lived in Jerusalem.
Jesus was known. His death had been the talk of the city and the rumors of his resurrection and odd events of Pentecost and the masses of people that had been baptized where circulating as well. So, when Peter approached him he was ready to hear and believe and receive the healing that God had offered through Peter in Jesus name.
For the same reasons the crowd that gathered around Peter, John, and the lame man would have also heard of Jesus. They knew he had been crucified. Some had even been part of the crowd that had called for Jesus crucifixion. They heard the rumors of his resurrection, and given the thousands who had been converted during the recent festival of Pentecost, many would have heard that strange things were happening in Jerusalem and that many had come to believe that this Jesus who had been crucified was in fact the Christ.
Do you see how God is working through all this? Jesus had been crucified just as God had planned. He had given his life into death in order that we who were doomed to death could live. Now he was working through Peter and the apostles, but also through the grapevine to prepare the people to encounter Jesus as the promised Messiah and their own savior from sin.
By glorifying Jesus, God magnified their sins, making them unmistakable and unavoidable, but he also was demonstrating his grace and mercy with great power. Jesus was still helping and saving people and Peter was telling them that even though Jesus had died at their hands, that all of this had happened so that God’s promise to Abraham that all the peoples of the world would be blessed through his descendants would be fulfilled. Through the sins they had committed in ignorance, God had brought salvation, grace, and forgiveness to them and to all who would repent and honor Jesus as their savior and lord.
And so, through the sins of holy people God made sinners holy.
It is unlikely that the people that Peter called to repentance that day were greater sinners than we are. Truthfully such comparisons don’t matter, far all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They weren’t the first or last to think of themselves as good people, even while they were operating in ways that indicated they were ignorant of God’s will and ways.
Likewise, Peter himself had had to face the fact that he had denied Jesus out of fear. Perhaps it was just that experience that enabled him to confront the people with grace and compassion as he pointed out their sin and offered them forgiveness and grace in Jesus’ name.
So do you see that in our lesson it is Christ and Christ alone who receives glory among men. God himself has exalted Christ by raising him from the dead, seating him in glory and majesty at his right hand in power, and by honoring his name with mighty works done in his name by God’s Spirit. Peter’s piety counted for nothing unless it also served to glorify the name of Jesus and the power that worked through him was not his own, but the that of Jesus, and the works which he did in Jesus name were the works of God.
And these works of God, the brought about reign of Christ, and spreads that reign from person to person and generation to generation. All this happensmdespite the opposition of men. Some of those who opposed Christ were religious and called by God for his purposes. Others, like Pilate, were without the divine law, but were still used by God to accomplish his purposes. Christ lived, suffered, died, rose, and reigns in order to reconcile people with God so that through faith in him and his work many will be saved.To sum up, whether anyone notices you or I or our service to God is not particularly important. What is important is that somehow God will work in and through us and others so that people notice Jesus and put their faith in him. Let that be your goal and let its realization be your joy. Amen.