Peter Heals the Crippled Beggar - Acts 3:1-20
An audio recording of this sermon is available.
Now I want to begin this morning by asking you which of these amazing facts about me do you believe are true? Do you believe all of them are true or just some, or none?
(Acetate 1- Amazing facts) So the first amazing fact is that I once asked an Olympic gold medallist to be my girlfriend. The second amazing fact is that I was once offered an opportunity to join the British Secret Service. And the third amazing fact is that I was once the lead guitarist in a wild early nineties rock band. So let’s find out which you believe to be true if any? Ask the audience! Well in fact, though it may surprise you to hear it, all of the amazing facts are true! None of the them are made up. I did once ask a friend of mine to be my girlfriend who went on to be an Olympic Gold medallist in Sydney 2000. She said no to me and promptly went out with my best friend! I was once offered an opportunity to join the British Secret Service, though if I told you more I’d have to kill you all. And yes I was once the lead guitarist in a legendary rock back in the early nineties which took the Cambridge party scene by storm! All of those amazing facts are true.
Now sometimes you discover that something which seems made up or something which seems to be totally unbelievable is actually true. I guess very few of you would have come to church this morning wondering if I was actually a closet rock guitarist. Some of you might, but not many. It just seems too strange to be true. And this morning we’re looking at a story from a section of the Bible called Acts. The book is about the things which Jesus’ followers did after Jesus had gone to be with God in heaven. And at first sight, the things that happen in our story seem to be really unbelievable. But the fact is, it is true and even more importantly it’s very relevant to you and me this morning. So I want to share with you this morning two amazing things from this passage.
1) An Amazing Miracle (Vv 1-10)
(Acetate 2- 1st title ) So the first thing we learn about is an amazing miracle in verses 1-10. Now it’s possible that some here may not know what a miracle is, so let me explain that a miracle is something very very special that very rarely happens. And that is the case in our story. (Acetate 3- Man) At the beginning of our story we meet a man who was not able to walk. In fact, right from when he was a tiny baby his legs didn’t work as they should have done. So every day, some friends of his carried him from his house to the Temple so that the man could beg for money or food. Unfortunately in those days he would not have got any help from the government, or even from his family. And very few people would have helped him or even taken notice of him. Every day as he sat near the Temple, people would have passed him by and probably ignored him. Well one day, two men called Peter and John went to the Temple to pray. (Acetate 4- Peter, John and man) Now these two men were followers of Jesus, and this begging man who couldn’t walk asked Peter and John for help. “Would you give me some money?” he asked them. And I guess he would have expected the usual response. “Sorry no change!” Or simply being ignored. But this time something different happened! Peter and John stopped and they told the man to look at them. And then have a look what Peter said in verse 6 of our passage: “Then Peter said: ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!’” So Peter says, “Look! I’ve not got any cash, but I’m going to give you something much better! I’m going to give you the ability to walk! Something you have never ever been able to do in your life!” And then Peter tells the man who has never walked before to get up and walk! Can you imagine how the man must have felt. He must have thought Peter was mad! “Walk? he would have thought. I cannot use my legs! I’ve never used my legs properly because I can’t. They don’t work!” (Acetate 5- Man gets up) But do you see what happens in verse 7: “Taking the man by the right hand, Peter helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk!” It’s amazing isn’t it? This man had never walked before. And now he’s up on his feet walking. (Acetate 6- Jumping man) And not only that, he’s jumping and leaping and praising God! I reckon he would have looked something like this. He would have been absolutely delighted wouldn’t he? Just think of the best thing that has ever happened to you in your life and remember how happy you were. Well that was how this man felt! And what does everyone think? (Acetate 7- Crowd) Well they are amazed and happy too! We discover in verse 9 that “when all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
Well what an amazing miracle. You can see that it’s not the sort of thing that happens every day is it? And by coincidence it just so happens that we have got the man who was healed in our story with us here this morning. And I thought I’d ask him a few questions. (Interview man) So what was it like to sit by the Temple every day begging for money and food? And then when these two men Peter and John came along, what did you think they would give you? But instead they gave you strong legs! So how did you feel about that? And what did you do? Well it’s an amazing story isn’t it? But do you know that is only half the story. Because although this story happened many years ago, yet it is actually very relevant to you and me. In fact it shows us something which is so good, nothing could be more important!
2) An Amazing Offer
(Acetate 8- 2nd Title) So let’s have a look at our next amazing thing and that is an amazing offer. We might think that Peter and John were the ones who healed the man. But Peter says he is not. (Acetate 9- Peter speaking) So what happens next is that Peter explains to the crowd who it is that has actually healed this man. And he tells us in verse 16 that it is Jesus who made this man well. “It is in Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given complete healing to him.” So it wasn’t Peter and John, but Jesus. Now you would have thought that if you had Jesus living among that you would love him as your friend. It would have been great to have had Jesus living among you wouldn’t it? But that is not what the crowd thought. In fact, Peter says that these people actually killed Jesus! Can you see what he says in verse 15: “You killed the author of life!” What Peter is saying is that these people he’s speaking to were responsible for putting Jesus to death! They actually made him go to the cross! What a terrible thing to do!
But actually the truth is that that is what human beings do to God when God comes to our world. When God came to earth as Jesus Christ, then what did we human beings do to him? We killed him! And that is actually a picture of what each of us does in our hearts. We don’t want him to rule our lives as our king! We don’t in our heart of hearts want to have anything to do with God. So we try and get rid of him! And it means that none of us deserve to be with God in heaven because none of us live the way God wants which is his way, which is a much more serious problem than even not being able to walk! And in order to live his way you have to be perfect!
Now to help me illustrate this point, I need one volunteer who thinks they are good at jumping! (Volunteer) Now I want to ask our volunteer this morning to jump up as high as they can. Now you’re a pretty good jumper. So can you jump up and hit the roof? No! Obviously not. (Acetate 10- Moon) And to reach God’s standard’s you need to jump not just to the roof, but to the moon. And I guess no-one can do that! All of us need to be forgiven. Or let me give another illustration. (Acetate- tower block) Now here I have a picture of a tower block. And it has 20 floors. And I want you to imagine that floor 20 is being perfect where God is and floor 1 is being very bad indeed. Now I guess most of us would put ourselves around about floor 8 or 9. We know we’re not perfect, but we’re not very bad. And at floor 17 or 18 there are people like Mother Teresa or Cliff Richard, really nice people! But right down the bottom are really nasty people like Hitler and Saddam Hussein. And in order to go to heaven, we would probably say you have to be above floor 7. Most people think you have to be fairly good to go to heaven, and most of us are OK. So that means we are fine, but other more nasty people are not! But the fact is that God draws the line not half way up, but right down the middle. He says that none of us can get to heaven by doing good things, because none of us are good enough. It’s not about reaching a certain standard. Rather God draws the line right down the middle. He says that anyone can be in his heaven, whether they are the worst person or the best person. None of us deserve it, but all of us can have it, whatever we have done. And how can we have it? How can we be with God in heaven when we don’t deserve it?
Well the answer comes in our passage in verse 19. Peter says: “Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out!” Isn’t that amazing. Our sins, all our wrongdoing can be wiped out. God is willing to forgive us and wipe the record clean! And how can he do that? Because of the cross of Jesus Christ. (Acetate 11- Cross) When Jesus died on the cross, it wasn’t an accident or disaster, it was what Jesus came to do. He came to die for us, taking the punishment we deserve for our sins. And it means if someone else has dealt with them, then we can be forgiven. The Jesus who healed the man of his inability to walk is the same Jesus who can cure of us of our spiritual weakness. So for our final illustration I need three volunteers. And I want to ask you to be honest and tell me some of the wrong things you have done this week. (Write up on acetate) Now if you try and rub those off then you cannot. And there is no way we can get rid of the sins in our life. We cannot rub them out ourselves. But when Jesus died on the cross, he offered us forgiveness. As Peter says he is able to wipe our sins away (Wipe away sins). Isn’t that a wonderful thing!
So I want to ask you this morning if you know that forgiveness that Jesus offers. Have you asked God for forgiveness through Jesus? Peter says that each one of us needs to repent. That is stop going our way and begin to go God’s way, accepting his forgiveness. If not, then you are still the wrong side of the line on our tower block. But be assured that God longs to forgive you and have you back and welcome you into his heaven. So why not accept his offer today! What’s stopping you? And like the man in the story we too can be healed of our most serious problem- a heart that is in rebellion against God. And for those who have, then let’s thank God again for his amazing offer and his amazing love.
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