About the Journey 3 - from Kerry

About the Journey Acts 3:1-20 - from Kerry Flemington

READING:
Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

“Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.

“Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.
Acts 3:1-20

REFLECTION:
Peter and John are on their way to 3 o’clock prayers at the temple. Days prior, they had helped in the conversion of about 3,000 people. As they are entering, they pass a man whom they have probably passed by hundreds of times before: a beggar who is brought there each day by his friends. This is a man who has been unable to walk his entire life and who scratches together an existence by begging for money from the people going into the temple to worship Jaweh. Like every other person who passes by him to get inside to do the important work of sacrifice, prayer, and worship, he asks Peter and John for some money as they are walking past him.

They stop. They look at him intently. And then Peter says to him, “Look at us.”

This is a break from the norm. Usually, there is an understood transactional interaction that takes place. The beggar asks for money, the worshipper drops in some coins and carries on, and both are satisfied with the outcome. There is no need for anything more to happen and nothing more is expected.

But today is different. For the beggar, I imagine he is thinking that with an actual acknowledgment by a passer-bye means that there will be some extra coins going into his cup. So he looks up at them in anticipation and Peter responds, “I don’t have any money to give you. But I have something else - life in Jesus Christ. Get up and walk.” And he does. He is euphoric! In an instant, his life has completely changed.

The people inside the temple get word and come running to see what is going on. And much like the day of Pentecost, Peter uses this opportunity to speak about Jesus as the Messiah, the promised one, whose death and resurrection won’t save them from the Romans, as they had hoped, but will save them from themselves so that they can be reconciled to their Maker.

What made Peter and John stop? Why this particular day? That man had probably been there every single time they had ever come to the temple. They may have even given him some money at some point. So why not just carry on and go inside? I’m sure there were people to interact with, prayers to be said, opportunities to build upon the wave of a 3,000 person conversion.

They stopped because this is probably the first time Peter and John actually ever saw this man, in the truest sense. Here was someone in the lowest standing of society. There is little to be gained from paying any attention to him. There are other, more pressing things to be gained by quickly passing him by and getting to the [temple]. But on that day, Peter and John SEE him...and on that day, the beggar is, probably for the first time in his life, SEEN.

It is this part of the miracle that stops me in my tracks. When we get to the end of ourselves, our agendas, and our works on behalf of God, our blinders come off and the world around us changes completely. What mattered once no longer matters. What didn’t matter once becomes of central importance. What is of central importance? I think the answer to that is uniquely personal, between us and God. But what is no longer of central importance is us. We are no longer at the center of the narrative; God is. And when he is, we will see the world completely differently. That’s when lives get completely transformed. That’s when the blind can see, the lame can walk, the broken are healed, the empty are filled. That’s when God can use us most magnificently.

But what of my healing, my brokenness? God doesn’t use us the way we use people. We use people to our own ends with little to no regard for them; but God’s use of us is entirely different. It is uniquely miraculous and so unlike anything we can come up with: God is glorified, we are transformed, and others are healed. Peter, John, and the beggar embody this on that particular afternoon at the temple. Peter and John stopping is proof of God’s transformative power in our lives. The beggar walking is proof of God’s healing in our lives. As Peter so rightly says to the gathered crowd, “Jesus, the one you crucified and who yet lives and reigns, healed this man, not us!” - God is glorified. And you know who rejoiced? The beggar certainly. But so did Peter, John, Jesus, God, and the heavenly realms! That’s what happens when God breaks through and becomes of central importance to our lives. I believe this is what Peter is referencing, in part, when he talks about times of refreshment. Somehow, God heals us as he uses us to heal those around us, all the while bringing glory to himself. Refreshing indeed - that is life giving!



you can connect with Kerry directly at kerry@arnuthill.com

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