Why Are You Surprised? Acts 3

How does the world perceive the church?  Do people have preconceived notions about the church?
I read an article the other day that explained how the church has been “typecast”. For many people, the role we play in society seems to be against any progress. I am going to show you through the first miracle in Acts that is not how the church should be perceived or how we should be achieving God's purpose in our lives.
The first miraculous healing after Jesus' ascension is found in Acts 3, and some scholars say that if you understand this miracle, in a way you will understand all the miracles that are described in Acts.  This miracle shows you God's compassion toward suffering people, his work to relieve that suffering, his message to us in that suffering, and the mission of the church in the world.

Peter and John were going to the temple to pray and worship at the time of the evening sacrifice. As they arrived, a man with no use of his legs because of a congenital condition was being carried to his accustomed begging place. Peter fixed his eyes on the man, and asked for the same attention in return. At first Peter disappointed the beggar by declaring his lack of money, but this served only to heighten the value of the great gift he offered: complete health, which had to be given in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  Peter commanded the man to walk and grabbed him by the right hand to raise him up. Instantly the man's feet and ankle bones received strength. Jumping up, he stood for the first time in his life. Then, in response as one who in faith realizes that he has been touched by God's power, he moved into the temple court, walking and jumping, and praising God. He became the living embodiment of the messianic age as predicted in Isaiah 35:6, "Then will the lame leap like a deer."

Should we expect such miracles today? The apostles are no longer with us, and miracles seemed to cluster around them; even in the first century, miraculous signs were not everyday occurrences. Yet, Jesus is still present by his Holy Spirit in the church. A healing miracle in the New Testament sense must have the following marks: it must be an instantaneous and complete deliverance from a grave organic condition; it must occur in response to a direct command in the name of Jesus, and it must be publicly acknowledged as indisputable.

After the miracle, word spread and people rushed to the area to see what was happening.  Peter stood up and said, "Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus."

Peter seized the moment and asked the people about their amazement. Peter prepared the way for his Old Testament quotes by declaring that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had in this healing glorified his servant Jesus. Boldly, Peter stated that the people had handed Jesus over to be killed and disowned him by rejecting Pilate's judgment that he was innocent.

Peter's transition from indictment to a call to repentance is the evident in his assertion that they killed the Messiah in ignorance. They failed to recognize Jesus' true identity, although it should have been evident from his words and actions. Yet not even this ghastly mistake was outside God's plan.

Peter commanded the crowd to repent, renounce the sinful lives that led to Jesus' death, and turn so that their sins could be wiped out and times of refreshing could come from the presence of the Lord—that is, God the Father. They were offered immediate relief since salvation had already been accomplished through Jesus. But there was more. God would send to them the Christ, who has been appointed for them, at the end, when he restores all things.
Our slate has been wiped clean. Our parched lives are refreshed in the present by seasons of the Spirit's outpouring. Our future perfection is beyond imagination.

​Have you ever noticed that every miracle Jesus and the apostles did was an alleviation of suffering? Peter said in verse 21 that this healing was a sign of the coming restoration of all things that God had promised. So, does that mean that from now on anyone who believes in Jesus will be healed? No, this healing was a “sign.” There were lots of sick, lame people in Jerusalem that day; Peter healed only that one. It is a sign of the full restoration coming to the future.
Not only did the apostles’ miracles point upward, showing God’s authentication of their message, they pointed forward, to the kind of restoration that Jesus was going to bring to the whole world. These miracles point us to the world as God created it to be, and as he wants it to be again.
To those of you in pain, that is your great hope and your sustaining joy. It’s temporary.  Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed in a diving accident as a teenager, said, "At that great Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the first thing I think I’ll do on resurrected legs is fall to my glorified knees and praise the God of Resurrection and healing, and then I’ll stand and dance before him with all my might.”
Do you want that future healing? Don’t you know deep down you are made for it—to be in a world without brokenness and pain? You must repent toward Jesus, for only in him is that healing found and the only ones who will go into that world are those who have surrendered to him.
In Him,
Pastor Boyd

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