Christ calls us to share the peace we experience through him with all because his peace is for all.
In our scripture passage for today, Acts 3, Peter knew what was needed to offer peace or Shalom to the crippled man. The man needed true peace which could only be found through Jesus Christ. He needed his life to be restored, made whole again, starting with his physical health.
"Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple…"
We start off with Peter and John heading to the temple to worship and pray. Note the passage here. They aren't just going to the temple to do personal prayer, they are going to attend a service. As they approach the temple, the encounter the man.
The foundation of this series is that we want to offer the kingdom to the people around us through deeds of peace. If we are going to learn from Peter and John though, we need to always be ready for opportunities to arrises for us to do something to bring peace.
We can't simply schedule into our day or week the moments we are going to show others love, compassion, and understanding. We have to transform our minds, eyes, and hearts so that we are looking for opportunities to reach out to others. Let's continue into the story.
"As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money."
They are trying to get to worship and they notice this man who is lame being carried to the edge of the temple. That was as far as he was allowed to go because the lame were not allowed inside the temple. Then the man sees Peter and John and asks them for money.
Take a moment and put yourself into this story. Picture trying to get to church on Sunday morning: you're walking out the door perfectly on time, or maybe rushing around the house running late. You're ready to get to church, see some people, get your coffee and scones, and relax. On your way from your house to here, what did you pass this morning? Who did you see?
For many of us, we think about the service start time instead of the people on the way to service. You might not even remember anyone, but I guarantee you passed someone on the way here.
Let's look back at Peter's actions. He noticed the man that was in his bath to the temple. He didn't just notice him, he stopped, he listened to him, and he responded to him.
"Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”"
Peter knew the man wanted money, what lame man wouldn't want money. But Peter wouldn't be giving them man peace, wholeness, restoration by giving them money. He knew that only Christ could bring Shalom to this man, so he called upon the power of Jesus to heal him.
Peter did more than just call upon Jesus's name. He took it even further. We read,
"Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened."
He did more than speak to this man, he physically reached out to him. He helped him up from his current spot to a new place with God. He knew God could heal the man, but that he might need some motivation to believe in what God could do after all of the years of lameness. Peter didn't lecture him, or tell him all the bad he did in his life. He simply extended his hand and helped the man up.
That act, calling upon the name of Jesus and acting upon his name by lifting the man up, proved to be what the man needed. As Peter helped him stand his feet and ankles were heald and strengthened. He could stand.
He does so much more than stand though. We keep reading,
"He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them."
He first starts to stand, then when the man realizes he's been healed he jumps up all the way to stand fully on his on, and starts to walk. But his not satisfied with walking, he starts to leap as well. As he walks and leaps, he's praising God. Can you picture it? Can you imagine everyone's faces as they watch this man? And after he got through celebrating in the streets, he did the one thing he's wanted to do his entire life. He walked through the gate into the Temple to worship God. Scripture doesn't say if the three men made it to worship on time or not, but I'd like to think however they entered this caused quite a scene.
Peter brought Shalom to this man's life. He brought him Jesus, healing, and love.
Worship and prayer was the center of the Jewish life and the early Christian community. Peter and John were having a normal day, seeking worship in the Temple, when they noticed someone who was unable to worship because he was set apart from the Jewish community due to his physical disabilities.
Read Acts 3:1-3.
- What do you picture as the scene is set for Peter and John's arrival?
- How is this like your days entering worship?
- Have you ever noticed who is along your path from home to church?
Read Acts 3:4-6.
- What did the man desire from them? What did they give?
- What do people around us in need desire from us?
- How can we offer them Jesus Christ?
Read Acts 3:7-8.
- Who in your life needs to be lifted up like the lame man?
- How can you lift them?
- What are some ways you can help them stand, walk, and leap?
Read Acts 9-11.
- When have you seen someone respond with this kind of joy to someone's kindness?
- What can you do to love someone as Peter loved this week?
As you go through your week, pray and ask God to show you who you need to build a relationship with. Seek moments to bring peace into their lives, loving them as God loves them. Be a friend to someone who needs one, lifting them up so they can leap.