Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I Have I Give You, pt. 1

Acts 3:1-21

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. As we think about fathers and the things fathers do, one thing we can say is that fathers fix things. You know, when you’re little and your toy breaks, what do you do? You bring it to dad, and he fixes it. Fathers also do a lot of handiwork and repairs around the house. Now, I’m going to be honest, I am a total failure at stuff like this. I don’t fix things. I can’t fix things. I don’t know how, and I never cared to learn, I guess. I can hang a picture or some blinds or change a tire, but beyond that I’m clueless. Now my dad, on the other hand, can fix all kinds of things.

So the other day, our toilet was running constantly. It wouldn’t stop running water, and so we thought, “This isn’t good. Our water bill’s gonna be through the roof.” So I went out to Home Depot and bought the parts and fixed the toilet. Well, actually my dad came over and looked at it, and then we got the parts and we fixed the toilet. Okay, well, actually he fixed the toilet, and I just kind of stood there for moral support. That’s how it is when we fix things together. He fixes the thing, and I offer my presence and an occasional tool. Basically, I mostly offer what he could probably do himself.

And this story (Acts 3) really begs this sort of question: What do we have to offer the world in Jesus’ name? It’s really Jesus doing all the work, so why does He need us? What do we have to give?

So we find ourselves at the Temple in Jerusalem. And we’re in front of one of the gates that lead to an inner part of the Temple. Only certain people can make it to worship beyond this gate. Only Jewish people can come in. No foreign worshipers. Only men can enter. No women. And no one who is ceremonially unclean or who has physical disabilities can enter. Now there is a crippled man who is being carried, maybe by his caregivers, to the entrance to this Temple gate where he will sit as worshipers enter. He's there to beg for money. Now, begging was a little different back then because this was essentially the Jewish welfare system. Charity was greatly valued in the Jewish culture, and so this man knows he will be taken care of financially by worshipers who can go deeper into the Temple than he can. So this is not a guy asking for money to buy beer. This guy is doing what he can to have his needs met, and he is relying of the goodness of God’s people who have been blessed with health.

The man has been carried to the Temple gate at three in the afternoon for a reason. This is the time of a call to prayer. People are making their way to the Temple at this time to pray together. We’re told that two of the Apostles, Peter and John, are part of this crowd who is gathering to pray.

The crippled man at the gate sees Peter and John passing by, and he asks them for money. Peter replies, “We don’t have any money, but we’ll give you what we do have. In the name of Jesus, get up and walk.” They helped the man up, his legs became strong, and he began to walk and run and leap. And guess where he runs? With Peter and John right through that Temple gate.

So that’s the scene. After this, a crowd begins to gather, and just like on Pentecost, Peter has words to explain what everyone is witnessing.

Now, we need to realize that miracles are never for their own sake. Miracles are never just for a show. Miracles happen within a specific time and place in order to point to Jesus in a unique way. The tongues on Pentecost said two things: the Messiah has come and He’s available to everyone, all peoples, all languages.

Peter explains to the crowd what this miracle means. His main point is familiar: Jesus is the Messiah. It was by faith in the name of Jesus that this man was healed. But it’s not just about this man’s healing. It’s about Israel being restored to God. Peter says that the people need to repent, change their thinking and living, so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord and that He may send Christ, who will remain in heaven until when? Until the time comes for everything to be restored. This miracle is about more than a man walking. It’s about restoration on a grand scale. It’s about the restoration available to all people in Jesus, first to the Jew and also to the Gentile.

Click here for Part 2.

No comments:

Post a Comment