Lesson 9: Peter Heals a Lame Man and Delivers a Sermon in Solomon's Porch
If you have that New Testament turned where it should be, you are at the beginning of Acts 3. Now, I want to tell you, personally, I'm glad you are hanging in there. It takes a lot of self-discipline to keep grinding and stay tuned-in. Real, genuine study is not easy. I congratulate you if you are taking this study serious and digging in, reading and re-reading. This book is a great storehouse of spiritual food, so come to the feast.
We're getting ready for another one of Peter's sermons in Chapter 3, another interrupted sermon. The setting here must have been within a month or a few months after Pentecost. We learned at the end of Acts 2 the disciples had enjoyed a tranquil period, the fellowship was filled with worshipful activity, they were a happy and content people. Verse 46 said they continued each day with one accord, i.e., one purpose. They were looked upon with favor from the community. More believers were being baptized every day. The church was growing. The apostles were following the outline of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was guiding the apostles in all truth. In the great commission, at the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus, pur Lord, instructed the eleven apostles on one occasion in Galilee, during those 40 days after his resurrection from the grave, to go and teach all nations. Now that's a big assignment. He told them to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the last verse of the book of Matthew, He told them to teach the persons they baptized. He commanded them to teach these new converts the self-same things Jesus had taught the apostles. Now you can see the work of the apostles was cut out for them. So, they were conducting an educational program. It was not a militant or formal sort of school or academy. Normally, they taught on a one-to-one, person-to-person basis. Oh, they used group instruction when it was expedient. They were teaching others to teach others to teach others to teach others. That's the way this church or kingdom was to be perpetuated. Just like a plant that grows up produces seed after it's kind, another plant is produced from it, that produces yet another plant, etc. A plant reproduces after its kind. Thus, generation after generation after generation it should remain the same. Peach trees do not turn into apple trees. Grape vines do not turn into potatoes. Thus, after 2000 years the Lord's church is the Lord's church. God gave the seed, man-made hybrids do not count. That's why Jesus said in Matt. 15:13:
Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
The church will not change if we use the same seed, the word of God. You have it in your hand, it just teaches about one church, Christ's church.
The apostles might be thought of as the professors in that informal school, at Jerusalem, directed by the Holy Spirit. The professors had been educated by Jesus, the master teacher. They were given special equipment to do their job, a baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit. You see, none of the books of the New Testament had been written then, not even the book of Acts. The apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had promised. Jesus had finished his work according to John 17:4; just as God had ended his work in Genesis 2:2. The Holy Spirit was now in charge. Progress was being made. The church was growing. They would eventually "teach all nations" as Jesus had said in the great commission.
I hope you will take a personal lesson from chapters 3 and 4. These two chapters go together, i.e., chapters 3 and 4 relate to a single incident or event. This event must have been recorded to help us cope when our progress is impeded, or when great stormy waves of tribulation come upon our tranquil sea of life. Verses 1,2 and 3 in this chapter set the stage. As so often happens, historical events are germinated in the soil of a routine day.
1 Now Peter and John went up together into the
temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth
2 And a certain man lame from his mother's
womb was carried, whom they laid daily at
the gate of the temple which is called
Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered
into the temple;
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into
the temple asked an alms.
Do you get the picture here? It's in the middle of the afternoon, something like 3:00 p.m. there in Jerusalem. It's time for one of those regular hours of prayer the local Jews routinely observed at the temple. This "Beautiful" gate as it is termed here, must have been one of the most used concourses leading to the temple. This lame man, we would probably call a beggar, was routinely, from day-to-day, placed at this entrance to the temple, according to verse 2. Peter and John, and the other apostles, had no doubt passed this way many times in the weeks before. But on this occasion, Peter and John possibly brushed unusually close to him, or in some way he got their attention. I get the feeling here they were sort of singled out in some way by this crippled man with a plea for a handout. You can probably identify with what happened here from your own experience. I recall as a young lad in my own hometown in Kentucky, how a blind man used to sit on one corner by the bus station, right down on the concrete, with his guitar. He had an old tin cup fastened onto that guitar where passers-by could put in coins. You could hear a coin hit that thing a block away. I can remember how Old Blind Jim used to play on my sympathy and my emotions as he strummed on that guitar and! sang at the top of his voice "how beautiful heaven must be." Now, this man in Jerusalem was lame, he was not blind. His legs were deformed in some way. He never walked in his life from his mother's womb. An adult man above 40 years old. I would think he was in a good location for asking charity, here by an entrance to the temple, perhaps people are more liberal on their way to worship. His plight was to beg. Now, get the next two sentences, verses 4-5:
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with
John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to
receive something of them.
Can't you just see the eagerness in this beggar's eyes? He must have thought, "They're going to give me something." Then Peter began to speak, verse 6:
Silver and gold have I none; Uh-oh, one of those kind. Peter continued:
but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
He surely didn't comprehend that. He must have been as bewildered as I would be if someone told me to jump over a cloud. A thousand thoughts must have raced through his mind. And probably one of the first must have had something to do with a cruel joke, and one of the next may have had to do with new wine. But then, these two Jews, Peter and John, just stood there with a firm gaze like they really meant it. And then, maybe that part about "in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" began to sink in. And, while he was just sitting there, with some dumb-founded grin on his face, Peter just reached down and took him by the right hand and lifted him, according to verse 7:
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength.
Suddenly, he discovered his feet and ankles were just like a normal person. That part of verse 7 which says he received strength gets my attention. I think I would have needed that. I would have been so mentally stunned I couldn't have taken a step. But then as soon as the shock wore off, I'm sure I would have done everything recorded in verse 8, and maybe more:
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
This man had NEVER learned to walk. Remember, he was placed there each day by others, verse 2. His ability to walk undoubtedly came as part of the miracle. I don't remember that, but I'm sure it took me a few days to learn to walk. This man walked immediately. He accompanied Peter and John further into the temple. Verses 9-10 relate to us how this miracle effected all the people that saw him.
9 And all the people saw him walking and
He must have been a familiar character around the temple if he was placed there every day. Can you imagine? I'll bet they did a double exposure in slow motion when their eyeballs fell on this man prancing around. Notice:
10 And they knew that it was he which sat for
alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and
they were filled with wonder and amazement
at that which had happened unto him.
Luke took this opportunity to give us a glimpse of one of those wonders and signs done by the apostles. Verse 11 indicates he must have held onto Peter and John. I think there is no way you and I can imagine the emotion this man must have experienced when he realized the full import of the gift he had received. If he had a tin cup, he must have thrown it as far as he could kick it, money and all. Verse 11 concludes:
all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.
Greatly wondering. Boy, that audience was ready wasn't it? They ran together. The next 15 verses record Peter's words. He took advantage on every occasion topreach and teach Jesus. Peter and John may not have had any silver and gold, but they had a mountain of motivation and a message that couldn't be told enough. Can you see why the Lord was adding to the church daily? People were hearing the message. Notice also the nonchalant way these apostles did this healing! This was an act of the Holy Spirit. They didn't get a big crowd of people together like a circus and at the height of the crowd's emotion try to pawn off some magic act. This was a genuine miracle. They didn't say, "Send me a dollar and we'll send you some special prayed-over handkerchief that when you receive you will begin to get ready to start to commence to maybe feel better." This man was healed before he understood the message. Can you see why this crowd was filled with wonder and amazement?
Ok, cast thine eyes on verse 12. Let's read what Peter said to the crowd:
12 Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or
why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by
our own power or holiness we made this man
13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of
Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified
his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and
denied him in the presence of Pilate, wnen he
was determined to let him go.
14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and
desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath
raised from the dead; whereof we are
16 And his name through faith in his name hath
made this man strong, whom ye see and
know: yea, the faith which is by him hath
given him this perfect soundness in the
presence of you all.
17 And now, brethren, I wot that through
ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
18 But those things, which God before had
showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that
Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that
your sins may be blotted out, when the times
of refreshing shall come from the presence of
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before
was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the
times of restitution of all things which God
hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy
prophets since the world began.
22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A
prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto
you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall
ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say
23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul,
which will not hear that prophet, shall be
destroyed from among the people.
24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and
those that follow after, as many as have
spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of
the covenant which God made with our
fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy
seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be
26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son
Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away
every one of you from his iniquities.
Notice in verse 12 Peter used the customary greeting, "Ye men of Israel". Then observe his technique - he fired off a couple questions, just bang, bang! First, "Why marvel ye at this?" That's like saying, "Why this can be explained easily if you have the right information." That was calculated to cause them to analyze and listen more critically. The second question was somewhat of a rephrasing of the first, "Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own powers or holiness we made this man to walk?' By rephrasing the question this way, he merely paraphrases the inescapable conclusion, that they must have already reached. Namely, this is coming from a higher power than these two men - it is coming from God. In saying it this way, he does two things: (1) He reaffirms their conclusion, (2) he identifies with them as just a man himself.
Remember now, all Jews went back to one common ancestor, Abraham. Now in verse 13, he further identifies with these Jews, by appealing to their common ancestry. And then, CO-WHAM! He hits them smack in the face with that same accusation he repeated twice on Pentecost - that they were responsible for crucifying Jesus. This is Peter's way of introducing them to Jesus. Jesus is the center of his sermon, from this point forward. The accusation starts in verse 13 and continues down through the first part of verse 15. I won't take the time to re-read this. It's just a brief summary of how Jesus was crucified on that Friday of Passover week. Peter says they were responsible. It doesn't take a literary genius to see the design of Peter's sermon was the same as his speech on Pentecost. We don'thave time, in this study, to hit every detail. For example, Jesus is referred to in these three verses by four different names: The Son of God (verse 13); the Holy One (verse 14); the Just (verse 14); and the Prince of Life (verse 15). Just like Pentecost, in verse 15 Peter affirms, "Whom God hath raised from the dead...." That statement probably doesn' t affect you like it did some of that crowd. You see, the Jewish religion had been sectarianized and denominationalized just like our religious world today. They shouldn't have been, but they were. There were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Herodians, the Zelotes, and the Lord knows what else. One of the cardinal points of doctrine with the Sadducees was there is no resurrection from the dead. Now as Peter preached to this mixed crowd, can you see how that statement - "Whom God hath raised from the dead" - must have hit some of those Sadducees? You see, Peter didn't just step on their toes, he stomped them into the ground! And again, just like Pentecost - "we are witnesses" - i.e., John and himself. Those in the crowd were witnesses also of the facts included in the accusation, i.e., that Pilate wanted to let Jesus go but they desired to have a murderer instead. In verse 16 Peter got back to the lame man that had been healed. He says it was through faith in the name of Jesus, that this man was healed. Re-read verse 16 closely. Now notice something here: It was Peter's faith and the power of Jesus that healed this lame man. It was not faith on the part of the lame man. You will remember, Peter healed the man before he had time to even consider, let alone express belief or unbelief. Modern day so-called healers have this backwards! They emphasize the need of faith on the part of the person being healed. Read the case in Matt. 17:18-20 and you'll be convinced, faith was required on the part of the person doing the healing - not on the part of the one being healed. Now in verses 17 and 18 Peter softens up a little. After calling them murderers, he calls them brethren. Maybe that helped a little. Then he said:
brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
Now that doesn't pronounce them innocent, but it reminds them the reason for their murderous action was a lack of faith. They didn't believe Jesus was God's Son. They were mistaken, and that implies the only honest thing to do is admit your mistake and accept the consequences. He says in essence in verse 18 that their mistake was inexcusable because God had showed this thing before by the mouth of all the prophets. That's another way of calling them ignorant, you see. Yet, he extends a little sincere sympathy. Can you see how Peter is shaping their thinking to bring about that question that was asked on Pentecost? Peter anticipates the question and prescribes the cure before they ask in verse 19:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.
Now, let me give you a little homework assignment. Take Peter's statement in verse 19 and analyze it. What is he telling these people in terms of the five steps we've covered? See what you can do.