Saturday, December 03, 2011

A few reflections on Acts 3

Oh, wow, has it been a long time since I've posted(2 and a half years).  I've got a couple of posts in draft stage, but they've never made it to published state.  Time to rectify that.

The following dates back to shortly after my last post.  A friend from church had asked me to look at the first few verses in Acts 3.  The following was the result:

Last week you asked me to look at the first part of Acts 3 (Peter and John and the healing of the man born crippled).  Here's what I've come up with.

One thing I see is that when God wants to draw attention, He certainly knows how to do it.  Anyone else (other than this cripple) who was seen in the temple walking and jumping around probably would't have drawn much attention.  But this guy was probably something of a fixture around the temple.  Most of the people in the temple court had probably seen him regularly and knew his condition.  They'd probably given him money.  When he shows up jumping around the temple courts, they know who he is and know how amazing the sight is, and they know that this isn't a fake.

Through the whole situation, I'm seeing Peter as a man whose eyes are on Jesus.   He knows that he himself has nothing to offer except the authority to speak in Jesus name, and faith in that name.  And he does have faith, of a level that can only be God-given. It's one thing to speak in Jesus name and watch what happens.  It's another to speak and then grab the cripple by the hand and haul him up.

But the thing that gets my attention is Peter's response to the crowd.  He asks 2 questions:
  1. "Why are you amazed?" I can just see someone in the crowd respond "Peter - Duh! A man crippled from birth is walking around, jumping, and dancing like a monkey.  For most people, this falls pretty firmly in the 'Amazing' category". But for the man whose eyes are on Jesus, and who knows who Jesus is, this isn't amazing.  In Jesus presence, these things happen.

  2. "Why are you staring at us as if this man had been healed by our power or piety?" Peter's eyes are on Jesus, not on himself. He knows he doesn't have the power to heal, and after denying Jesus, he knows that he doesn't have any piety in and of himself. He knows who Jesus is, and he knows who he is, and between the two he knows which one really deserves attention.
I think most Christians have little problem with acknowledging that it's God's power, not ours, that heals and touches people.  What we have problems with is acknowledging that our piety has nothing to do with it. If God has us involved with healing or touching someone, we wouldn't mind a bit if it is seen as a reflection of our own spiritual growth or knowledge, our own 'piety'.  But for Peter, whose eyes are on Jesus, it's actually puzzling that people might perceive this event as reflecting well on his own piety.

As a man whose eyes are on Jesus, Peter then proceeds to point to Jesus, not himself, as the author of this healing.

An additional note:

If I'm right, and this man had been a 'fixture' in the temple for an extended period (which seems likely, given that 'the people recognized him'), then it's likely that he was there during Jesus' ministry, and Jesus didn't heal him during Jesus' earthly ministry.  You have to wonder if Jesus looked at him at some point and thought 'Friend, I'm not going to heal you today.  But your healing is going to play a big part in the start of building my Church'.  When God doesn't answer us today, sometimes He may be saving the answer for a time that will produce a bigger result than we expect.

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