- Today’s division between Judaism and Christianity did not exist in the same way this early in history. The first Christians were Jews and continued with their Jewish culture and religiosity as long as it did not clash with the new covenant (Gal 2:11-14). For example, the first Christians often gathered in the temple (Acts 2:46).
- Normally, many Jews gathered for prayer in the Temple three times a day: in the morning, at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), and at dusk (Exodus 29:38-39). The reason that 3:00 p.m. is referred to as the “ninth hour” is because the Romans began counting the day from sunrise.
- The first and the last prayer meeting in the temple included a sacrifice and it is interesting that Peter and John choose to go to the prayer meeting when there is no sacrifice. Jesus has presented himself as a sin offering and therefore no more sin offerings are needed (Heb 10:11-18).
- This is a good example of how the first Christians lived in their Jewish culture and religiosity as long as it did not clash with the new covenant; they attended the common Jewish prayer but refrained from participating in the unnecessary sin offering because they had already had all their sins forgiven.
- In the same way, we should also reflect today on what it is in our culture that clashes with the New Covenant and our Christian faith. This should always be an ongoing topic of conversation in the Christian community. One does not have to stop being Swedish just because one has become a Christian, one can well continue with one’s Swedish customs and traditions, but one needs to critically examine one’s culture and consider whether there is anything that is ungodly and cannot be reconciled with the Christian faith.
- There were several gates into the temple of Jerusalem and this was probably the eastern gate of the temple leading from the court of the women to that of the Gentiles.
- The lame man’s situation was hopeless. He was over 40 years old (Acts 4:22), had been paralyzed from birth and was totally dependent on other people. However, the paralytic man has resigned himself to his situation and did not expect a miracle.
- The man asks Peter and John for some money to live on with his disability. However, God doesn’t just want to ease our situation, he wants to restore our situation. It is not God’s will that we humans should merely receive a little help so that we can survive another day in our miserable situation, no God wants to restore, heal and completely free us from our troubles!
- The lame man expected to get some money, but God wanted to give him something much bigger and better; a healing!
- God is so much more good and loving than we can understand and often we expect far too little from him. God wants to bless and heal us, but often we settle for something much less than what God really wants to give us.
- According to Ephesians, God has blessed us Christians with “all the blessings of the heavenly world” (Eph 1:3) and we need to lift our eyes and pray to receive what God wants to give us.
- Sometimes I think that we Christians sometimes put ourselves in the hopeless position of the lame man and do not expect the miracles that God really wants to give us. It would be a great pity if we missed out on a lot of God’s blessings just because we didn’t believe enough about God.
- Even though the lame man didn’t really expect healing, God gave him healing anyway! Even if our faith is not always enough, God can still bless us. Sometimes it’s easy to feel pressure and force yourself to “believe you’ll be healed” so that you end up feeling bad, and that’s not God’s intention.
- Unfortunately, there is a misconception among some Christians that wealth means being blessed by God. Fortunately, however, God’s blessing is not about getting rich, but about receiving restoration and healing of spirit, body and soul.
- According to Jesus, the believer never has to worry about money; God cares for those who belong to him and will give us everything we need (Matthew 6:24-34).
- Peter could, if he had money, have given the lame man a few crowns and thus eased the man’s predicament a little, but then the man would have been back as a beggar the next day and the situation would have remained the same.
- Peter is not content to simply ease the man’s situation, but instead wants to free him completely from his disability so that he has a chance at a new life!
- Of course, it is not wrong to give money to beggars or in any other way to ease a difficult situation, it is always good to help. But we as Christians must remember that God wants something much bigger and better than just for the day to ease a miserable situation, God wants to completely remove the problem and instead restore each person and offer a new life!
- We Christians need to ask God for more faith in our lives and more of the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayers so that we can participate even more in God’s restoration of all humanity.
- If you had to choose between being rich in money or rich in heavenly blessings, which would you choose?
- Today there are many churches and many Christians who might well say “we have silver and gold”, but who are far from saying “in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, arise and walk!”. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate what is most important?
- Even today, Christians are called “Nazarene” in Israel.
- Peter himself had received the power of Jesus and was therefore able to pass it on (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-4).
- Anyone can’t go around ripping disabled people out of their wheelchairs and assume that God will heal them. Imparting God’s power means that you have also in some way shared in God’s power.
- Paul urges all Christians to seek the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1), and if you want to do what Peter did, you should ask God for one of these spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
- If one were to necessarily speculate about what spiritual gift Peter had received and used on this occasion, I would personally believe that he had received the gift of healing the sick, but also the gift of faith. Surely the lame man was healed and cured of his disability so that gift was somehow in use. But the astonishing way that Peter knew by faith that this particular man would be healed suggests that Peter also received the gift of faith.
- However, it must not be forgotten that the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian and it is the Holy Spirit who possesses all the gifts and he can of course impart them as he wishes (1 Cor 12:11). So even if one has not been given the gift of healing the sick, every Christian can still pray for the sick and allow the Holy Spirit to heal. Receiving the gift of healing the sick is about God using that particular gift in a clearer way.
- In our Western culture, names are mostly just a figure of speech, but in the Middle East of biblical times, a name was much more than just a figure of speech. When a biblical person was involved in something big and significant, God sometimes gave them a new name to mark the new life that was beginning.
- Jacob (=he who holds the heel) is given the new name Israel (=he struggles with God) after he has wrestled with God (Genesis 32:28).
- Simon (=hearing of prayer) receives the new name Peter (=clip) after he has confessed that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt 16:17-18).
- Jesus means “God saves” and Christ means “the Anointed One”. When we believe that Jesus is the Christ, we share in God’s salvation and thus share in Jesus’ name.
- No wonder the first Christians were delighted when people began to call Jesus’ disciples “Christians” (Acts 11:26, 1 Peter 4:16), because that meant that they also shared in God’s salvation. Calling oneself a “Christian” means identifying oneself with Jesus Christ and belonging to him.
- Using the name of Jesus Christ in the way Peter does here can be likened to a signature. If I, as a police officer, come to a house with a search warrant signed by a police chief, then by law I may conduct a search. But if the document is not signed, I cannot enter the house. The police officer who is going to carry out the search uses the authority of the chief of police and is therefore authorised to carry out the search. In the same way, Peter can heal the lame man in the name of Jesus because Peter uses the authority of Jesus. No man can miraculously heal someone who is sick by himself, but Jesus can, and if Jesus gives us his authority, we can heal the sick in the name of Jesus (Luke 9:1-2, Mark 16:17, John 14:13).
- However, it is important to remember that the name of Jesus is not some magic spell with which you end your prayer to ensure that you really get an answer.
- Often a healing comes in connection with some kind of “act of faith”, i.e. doing something in faith that one cannot really do. On this occasion, the lame man’s legs are strengthened as Peter raises him up. Some other examples of this are:
- Jesus calls the lame man to stand up (Mark 2:11).
- Jesus invites the man with a withered hand to stretch it out (Mark 3:5).
- When the woman with hemophilia touches Jesus, believing that she can be healed, she is healed (Mark 5:28-29).
- When the woman with a possessed daughter does not leave Jesus despite a seemingly dismissive response, Jesus heals her daughter (Mark 7:24-30).
- Jesus asks two blind men, “Do you think I can do this?” They answered, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes and said, “As you believe, so shall it be done to you.” And their eyes were opened. “(Matthew 9:28-30).
- Before, the lame man’s situation was hopeless, but now that he is healed, he jumps up and praises God. The man’s situation is no longer hope-less 😉
- We can learn many good things from the lame man’s response to his healing: (1), the man follows the apostles, (2), the man uses what God has given him, and (3), the man praises God.
- Isaiah prophesied many hundreds of years before this event that God himself will come to earth and save us humans and that “the lame man” will then “leap like a deer” (Isaiah 35:6). This prophecy is now being fulfilled concretely before the eyes of the people of Jerusalem.
- The lame man had been lame for 40 years and was well known to all those who used to go to the temple. No one could deny that there had obviously been a fantastic miracle!
- The people who recognized the man and realized that God had performed a miracle were horrified and amazed. A better response would have been for them to do as the lame man did; praise God!
- When you and I see God perform miracles, how do we react? Do we respond with skepticism, fear, disbelief or joy?
- The man used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate, which most likely means that Jesus must have passed by the man when he entered the temple. Why didn’t Jesus heal this man? Sometimes Jesus doesn’t heal the sick when they don’t believe in him (Mark 6:5-6), but it could also be that for some reason Jesus knew that the right time for the man’s healing was when he got to see Peter. God knows when the right time for healing is, and sometimes we may need to wait for God’s right time.