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Acts #10 (chapter 3:1-11)
The Book of Acts
God’s Purpose for Miracles
Acts 3:1–11
Please turn with me to
Acts 3:1-11
What we have here is an example of what is mentioned in chapter 2, verse 43.  When the church was born, there was this spirit and sense of awe and wonder, and much of that had to do with the wonders and signs that were done by the apostles. 
What had been true of Jesus was now true of them.  The miracles that were common in His ministry, are now being done by them as a validation that their ministry was of God. And an example of that ministry is what we read about here in chapter 3. 
Now I think it extremely important to note that these miracles were done through the apostles.  Notice, first of all, the word "through".  They weren't doing anything.  THe miracles were done by God and they were simply the human vessels through which He worked. 
But also notice, they were done through the apostles.  It was the apostles that were granted this amazing ability and it was done to validate their message.  It was the apostles that did miracles, and the only ones beyond them were those tightly connected to them.  And by the way, when the apostles were not present, no miracles occurred.  There’s no occasion of a miracle occurring without an apostle present.
And it is my opinion, along with a lot of others who are much more respected than me, that the age of miracles as far as how they are presented in the New Testament, died with the apostles. 
And in fact, apart from these very earliest days of the church, miracles are very rare. There are no healings referred to in any New Testament church.  Now think about that, especially in light of all the miracle services and emphasis placed on it today. 
There is no record in the entire New Testament of anybody in a church being healed.  There is no instruction given to the church about healing.  In fact, as you travel through the Book of Acts, you start seeing more and more references to believers being sick.  And by the time you get to the epistles, they're even talking about things like dying from their sicknesses. 
And I'm afraid one of the most mis-taught and misunderstood subjects in the Bible is healing miracles.  Healing was not a gift to believers to make them better.  It was a sign to nonbelievers to convince them to believe the message of the gospel. 
In fact, I think it safe to say they weren't even a sign to unbelievers in general, but to unbelieving Jews in particular. 
Why do I believe that?  I believe it because of what we read in Exodus 15. 
After God lead His people out of Egypt and they were being established as a nation, they were out in the wilderness of Shur and they had no water to drink. 
Three days went by without water and they came to a place called Marah.  There was water, but it was bitter.  The people began to gripe and complain to Moses.  Moses asked God what to do and God showed him a tree and told him to throw it in the water.  When he did the waters became drinkable. 
And here's what God said to them in Exodus 15:26: “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.”
That is a healing promise from God to Israel.  And here is what I find remarkable about that.  Even though they had killed their Messiah, they are still children of the Covenant and God’s Covenant with them is irrevocable. 
Could it be that in the healing ministry of Jesus, and even after, in the healing ministry of the apostles, God is saying to the Jews, "Even though you killed the Prince of life and disowned the Holy and Righteous One, My promise is still valid, and here are previews of what God will do for you if you turn to Him and believe"? 
So every time a Jews saw someone healed, it was not only a validation of the message of the apostles as being from God, because no one can do this unless God is with him, it is also an evidence that God, who promises to be a healer of Israel when Israel obeys, is still honoring that promise. 
Well, be that as it may, the Holy Spirit here in chapter 3 provides one of those many signs and wonders mentioned in verse 43 of chapter 2.
So look at the story through a simple outline.  Let's being with
1.  The Setting
Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour.  We have subjects, location and time.  Peter and John are the first ones we meet.  They were really good friends and had been friends for a long time, probably since they were boys. 
They were from two different families, but they worked together in a fishing business on the lake in Galilee.  They hung out together.  They show up at the empty tomb together.  They were a part of the group that was the closest to the Lord in His earthly ministry, which also included James.  But Peter and John were buddies.   
Now, these two friends had a daily, normal habit of  going up to the temple to pray.  In fact, the temple seems to be the place to find the apostles.  It was where they hung out and ministered.  In fact, it's easy to read right by it, but verse 46 or chapter 2 tells us they were at the temple every day. 
On this particular day, these two friends are going up to the temple at the ninth hour, which is 3:00 in the afternoon, which is not only the hour of prayer, it is the hour of evening sacrifice for the Jews.
So this is their custom.  They’ve been doing this throughout their life whenever they were in Jerusalem, and even though they are now Christians, they're still going. It’s all they’d known.  They truly worshipped the true and living God who was represented in that temple.  They were at home in the temple. 
And for the first time, they understood the temple, and the God who was represented in the temple.  Eventually, they will come to realize He's not housed there or limited to a physical place. 
I think also playing into meeting at the temple was the sheer size of the crowd.  They grew from 120 to over 3,000 the first day.  Plus people are coming to the Lord daily, and by the time chpater 3 is over, there are another 5,000 added. 
So there are somewhere around 10,000 people in a few weeks in this church.  Where are they going to meet?  There's only one place you could gather like that, and that was in the temple. 
So here are Peter and John in the courtyard at the temple at the time of the evening sacrifice.  I think it highly probable that other believers are there also. 
As they travel, they pass the beautiful gate on the east side of the wall that surrounds the temple.
Bear in mind, Jews are coming at that time for the evening sacrifice.  It is a perfect place for a beggar to hang out.  Worshippers are coming in, already thinking about their need to be right with God.  So conditions are right for a beggar to get something.
In verse 2 we meet the next subject in the story,  He is a beggar and he has the good fortune to be right at the gate, thanks to some unnamed friends or comrades who bring him there. 
We also discover he has been lame from his mother’s womb.  he is the victim of a birth defect.  He survives by begging and he is there to take advantage of this massive gathering of people who are coming to worship.
In a moment of divine providence, he sees Peter and John entering the gate and ask them for money. As far as he is concerned, there is nothing special or significant about them. He just does to them what he does to everybody.  He begs.  He wants cash from them like he gets from everybody.
So that’s the setting.  Peter and John coming up at the normal hour, and they encounter this beggar.  That’s the setting. 
Next, let’s look at
2. The Sign
verses 4 through 8
The Bible tells us that Peter and John and this beggar, in the middle of all the rush and business and noise and all that's going on, have a moment where they are oblivioius to everything else. 
Peter and John "fix" their eyes on this man, and they tell him to Look at us", and he does it.  He gave them his attention.  Now that's kind of risky because he might miss the opportunity with someone else!
But he is expecting them to give him something and what he is expecting is cold, hard cash!  He wanted whatever either someone's guilty conscious or devotion to God caused them to give.
But in verse 6 Peter says what no beggar ever wants to hear when he says, "I do not possess silver and gold.”  This is not about that.  “But what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene –rise up and walk!”  He looked for a meager sum of money, and he was miraculously healed.
Now, there are four elements to this miracle that I would just identify for you because they are a beautiful picture of salvation.  First, it was
- unexpected
He is not like blind Bartimaeus down there in Jericho who was looking for a miracle.  In fact, it appears a miracle is the farthest thing from his mind.  He wants money.  And yet, on a day when he least expected it, he meets the Lord and it is all by the grace of God. 
Secondly, the miracle is
- in the name of Jesus Christ
It is done for the express purpose of connecting this man to Jesus Christ. The miracle is done by the authority and power of Jesus Christ.  In fact, down in verse 12, Peter will explain this further. 
verse 12
Peter offers no hesitation when it comes to calling  attention to Jesus Christ.  It wasn’t about money, silver, gold, anything temporal.  Miracles were done to point people to Jesus Christ, whom they preached, and whom they represented. 
And to underscore the significance of that Power and name, Peter took the man, and he lifted him up. 
verse 7
We don't know exactly how old was this man.  Tradition says he was 40, but we can't be sure.  But however old he was, now for the very first time in his life, he is standing on his own two feet! In an instant, his feet and ankles were strengthened.  No rehab!  No braces!  No crutches!  Just an instant act of creation in which new tissue and muscle and bone and cartilage and nerves and brain activity is formed
so that he knows how to walk!  
Which leads us to the third thing:  The miracle was
- instantaneous
You do realize that's what happens when you get saved right?  In an instant, God creates a brand new you!  The old passes away, everything is made new. 
Just like God created Adam, breathed life into him and he was a full grown man walking around.  You do realize Adam didn't have to learn to walk like a baby, right?  Adam was created in a split second and walked.  This man was created new in a split  second, fully functioning.  Unexpected, in the name of Christ, instantaneous, and finally
- complete
Verse 8
He literally came right up out of his sitting position, or lying down and began to began to walk and jump around!  He was athletic in a split second.
That's what happens with a new believer.  He is birthed into the kingdom with full-grown capabilities.  Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a brand new believer can worship and pray and read and understand the Bible and share his faith understanding that God has done a work of complete redemption.  The only thing that has to happen is for the physical to catch up with the spiritual. 
We are seated in the heavenlies.  We are completed works of salvation just waiting for our bodies to catch up! 
That's the setting and the sign.  Quickly, let's see
3.  The Significance 
So why is this particular story included in the New Testament?  There are some periphery lessons, but it seems to me this miracle was done in this individual's life to draw a crowd to hear about Jesus. 
verses 8-12a
God drew the crowd and all Peter had to do was stand up and talk about Jesus!
And next time, we'll look at his message to the crowd. 
But before I close, I want to jsut point out a couple of things from this man and his experience. 
If, as I've mentioned, his experience is a picture of salvation, then it seems to me what happened in his life after the miracle would have something to say to us about what we can expect when we get saved. 
First, he
- entered the temple
When he was healed, he immediately went to church with Peter and John.  That's a given and it is consistent with what we've already seen adn will continue to see throughout the New Testament.  People got saved and they went to church. 
I get concerned about those who "make a decision" and then never come back again.  That is not a Biblical pattern of salvation.  He entered the temple. 
And notice, he was
- filled with joy
I don't know about you, but I picture Peter and John walking in as they normally did while this guy is all over the place!  They're walking while he looks like he is bouncing on a pogo stick, praising God! 
And everybody sees him walking and praising God.  They all know who he is.  He’s the man who sat there for decades at the beautiful gate of the temple begging alms, and they’re absolutely dumbfounded at what has happened to him.  So, the first thing is his joy.  The man is filled with joy.
Third, he
- praised God
It's mentioned twice.  At the end of verse 8 and again in verse 9, we find him praising God.  There is instantaneous gratitude to God that leads him to praise.  He knows where His healing is coming from.  He knew the source of the power.  And the most reasonable and expected response to what he has experience is praise.
And finally,
- people can see the difference
In fact, they are amazed!  They’re just astonished.  They’re filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.  They knew the he was really lame.  And now they are in shock over what has happened.  They couldn’t deny it. They all knew what had happened.
And it happened so the message of Christ could be shared. 
Isn't that why God has saved us?  That's why God did a miracle for you!  So that through our joy, our praise and our worship, people can see the difference Christ makes so that we can share with them the good news found only in Christ? 
Let's pray.
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