Monday, June 21, 2010

What I Have I Give You, pt.2

So now that we know what this healing is a picture of and what it should point to in our minds, namely the restoration of all things in Jesus, let’s rewind and take a better look at how this microcosm of restoration came about. There is a crippled man who has been carried to the Temple gate where he must beg in order to earn a living. Peter and John are on their way to afternoon prayer. The crippled man sees Peter and John and asks them for money.

Now, when this man (who is probably seated on the ground) calls out to Peter and John, what is the first thing they do? They look at him. They look straight at him. Have you ever seen someone approaching you on the street, and you just know they are going to ask you for money? What’s the first thing we’re tempted to do? Look straight ahead. Don’t look at them and maybe they’ll keep going by. There was a man, I can’t remember his name, who became voluntarily homeless for a period of time on the streets of a major city. One of the things he noted was that during this period, no one on the street would make eye contact with him. Imagine being around thousands of people every day and being essentially a ghost to all of them. Over time, this has a huge affect on an individual’s self worth. The first thing Peter and John do is look at this man. He would not even look at them at first, perhaps staring at the ground in shame. Peter tells the man, “Look at us!” They look him in the eye. They treat him as an equal. Before they do anything, before they give this man anything, they give him their attention. They give him dignity.

The next thing we notice is not what Peter gives this man, but what he doesn’t give him. “Silver and gold I do not have. It’s all plastic these days, man. You know how it is.” Peter does not have what this man is seeking. He quit his job to follow Jesus - he doesn’t have any money! There’s a way of giving to the poor that is simply putting a band-aid on the situation. Now, there’s nothing wrong with giving money, but Peter is interested in something deeper. When Peter is finished, this man won’t need to beg for money. Who cares if Peter doesn’t have silver or gold? We have to keep this in mind when we’re building for the Kingdom. We can do good for people, but if our good works don’t point to Jesus, we’re merely handing out band-aids. We can’t build for the Kingdom without telling people what we’re building for. We can’t just point to the Kingdom with telling people how they can enter the Kingdom. Do you see? If Peter had given this man a coin in Jesus name, he could have bought a loaf of bread, but he could never have gotten inside that Temple gate.

“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And he offered his hand. Now, think about this. How did Peter know that when that man took his hand and stood up that he would be able to walk? Peter did not heal the man. He told the crowd, “We are just ordinary men. God did this.” How did he know Jesus would back him up? I think maybe because Jesus had told Peter he would. “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.” And so,“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Peter tells the crowd that it was by faith in Jesus that this man was healed. I want to ask, whose faith in Jesus? The crippled man’s? We not told that this man is a follower of Jesus. We don’t know what this guy thinks about Jesus. We're not even told if he became a follower of Jesus after the healing. I'd like to think he did, but we're not sure. So whose faith healed the man? I think it was Peter’s. Peter acted for this man’s good and trusted Jesus to back him up. Peter trusted Jesus to bring restoration to this man through his own faith and action.

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