From the moment this poor man opened his eyes, breathed his first breath, and cried out for his mother’s milk, he was paralyzed and helpless. I wonder how saddened and disappointed his parents must have been? Honestly, it’s a miracle they kept their son alive and didn’t throw him out like garbage in the way most Romans would have done. Whatever the case their lives would never be the same with a disabled son.
This man would grow up without any friends, he’d never go to school or play outside or do anything other than lay on a mat and beg for money. I’m sure he was very young when his parents thought he could at least do something to put some food on the table. Every single day he was carried to Temple courts to sit or lay all day long and beg for money. He was there all day, everyday for years.
Then one day, two men entered the temple courts and this crippled man asked the Apostles Peter and John for money, just like he did to every person his saw. Peter, prompted by the Holy Spirit, looked right at him and demanded he look him in the eyes! At that moment he was healed. Peter then took him by the hand and helped him up to his feet for the first time in his life. How incredible it must have felt to suddenly realize he could move his legs! Overwhelmed with joy and the healing power of God, the man starts to walk and then run around the Temple praising God! Of course everyone who saw him and knew him, were filled with wonder and amazement because he was clearly healed! The man held onto Peter and John while a crowd of people gathered to see this miracle for themselves.
Peter seized the moment to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He began by explaining how the story of Israel began with God’s promise to Abraham. God’s covenant to Abraham was the foundational promise of the Old Testament. In Genesis, God revealed himself to Abraham and promised, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.” From one man came the nation of Israel and the people of God. But God’s blessing was never meant for Israel to horde. God’s promise was for Israel to pass on God’s blessing to all people. The Apostle Paul reminds the church of God’s promised blessing for all believers, who by faith, not blood, are children of Abraham.
The gospel starts with the story of Israel but then finds its fulfillment in the story of Jesus. Before Peter transitions to Jesus, he places the blame for Jesus’ death on the Jewish leaders by reminding them how they handed Jesus over to die. Peter then ended his sermon by showing how salvation was possible for them, even with all the guilt on their hands. In the gospel, Peter doesn’t excuse sin, but points their gaze to Jesus and to the necessity of salvation. Peter was a living and breathing example of someone who denied Jesus three times and could speak from experience about the power of healing and salvation in Jesus’ name.
The second part of the gospel is centered on and revolves around Jesus. Peter gives all credit of the healing to Jesus. Most of the crowd loved to see the healing of the man, but many had a hard time swallowing the truth of the gospel. Peter talked first about the necessity of faith and says the man was healed by faith in Jesus’ name. Faith in Jesus always comes first and is followed by repentance and baptism. As someone turns to Christ by faith, they turn away and repent from their sin and then obey Jesus in the waters of baptism.
Peter then explains exactly how they can respond to the gospel. The gospel is not just information, the gospel is an invitation to turn away from spiritual death and turn to God. Again, the pattern of response is to believe, repent and be baptized. This is how someone becomes a follower of Jesus and enters into the gospel story of Jesus. When we come to God in faith and repent, he wipes our slate clean and we are given a fresh start. Once our sins are wiped away, we’re filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter says we will experience times of refreshing. Refreshing means rest, relief and respite.
In the conclusion of his sermon, Peter draws the crowds’ attention away from the healing of a crippled man and focuses solely on Jesus Christ. He does this by using many of the names and titles associated with Jesus. Jesus is God’s servant, the Author of Life, the Prophet, Priest, King, and Stone. For some, Jesus is the cornerstone to build life upon, while for others, He is the stumbling stone that many will reject. Peter is proving how the gospel is centered on and revolves around Jesus and if that is true, salvation is found in no one else.
What we see in this story is how Jesus can restore a person to both physical and spiritual health. That’s exactly what the power of the gospel does in this crippled man’s life. He is restored physically and spiritually. Peter takes the opportunity of a physical healing to connect it to the flow of salvation and spiritual healing for all who believe.
What’s this mean for us today? We still believe God heals! The good news of the gospel is that Jesus is Savior, King and Healer. Some of you are dealing with a physical issue that just won’t go away. Some of you are dealing with something mentally that you need healing from. Some of you still have not received salvation and the refreshment of the Holy Spirit. There is power in the gospel of Jesus and there is power in his name! I can’t promise you that God will heal you today, but I know that God commands us to pray for healing.
Healing and salvation flow from the gospel story of Jesus.
How can I pray for you today?