In the Name of Jesus…
In the Name of Jesus...
Rodney Gehman – October 29, 2023 – Acts 3:1-4:4
Today we pick up again in our Act series again, and we’re in chapter 3 this time. Where we left off last time, we’d seen the Apostle Peter preach a sermon to a huge crowd, people responded, and the church grew from 120 people to now a little over 3000 people, and here is the last paragraph of chapter 2.
 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. THey sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
 Verse 43 says that signs and wonders were being performed through the apostles. And I don’t know that I would have been able to make this distinction on my own, but what are signs and wonders? Well, a “wonder” is something that makes your jaw drop, right? Maybe someone does a card trick or something and you go, Oh wow! How did you do that!? That’s amazing!? Well, in this context, it’s not a trick – it’s an action of the Holy Spirit. A wonder is when something miraculous or supernatural happens where everyone is amazed and in awe, and those kinds of things are happening by the hands of the apostles. But some of these are also signs. A sign is something miraculous that points to a deeper truth, and there is something else to be learned by it.
So, as you already know if you paid attention to the reading a few minutes ago, a crippled man gets healed in this text today, and we won’t touch on this verse until another week or two, but skip all the way ahead to  chapter 4 verse 22 – For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old.
We are looking at a miraculous sign this morning, which means we have to look past the healing and see what lies under the surface, and I hope it’s an easy one for you to spot.
  Now Peter and John were going up to the temple for the time of prayer at three in the afternoon.
Peter and John are doing what we were told in the last chapter – they are devoted to prayer and meeting together in the temple. So here they go, headed to worship with hundreds, probably thousands of others. Which makes the time of prayer a) a perfect place for a sign to happen so that it’s seen by a lot of people at once, and b) a perfect place to panhandle, or beg for cash.
 A man who was lame from birth was being carried there. He was placed each day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so that he could beg from those entering the temple.
The temple gate that was called “Beautiful” was one of nine gates into the temple, and this one would have been a good spot to be, because a lot of people went through this gate and most importantly – giving alms, or giving donations to the poor was a big part of the Jewish faith. Jews came to the temple three times a day for prayer: 9am, noon, and 3pm. And because he knew the OT Law instructed the Israelites to take care of the poor, it worked out well for him.
No doubt there were probably a lot of other beggars there that day, so I’m sure there was an urgency to get the best spots, and all that kind of thing. But probably 3x a day, family or friends would go pick him up (literally), probably on a stretcher, and leave him at the gate while they went on in for prayer.
 When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, he asked for money.  Peter, along with John, looked straight at him and said, "Look at us."  So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them.
I think we can learn something about this man based on a few clues.
- Lame from birth. So first of all, this was a condition he didn’t ask for. This was a condition he was born with and couldn’t do anything about. For 40+ years, he relied on other people to do the things he couldn’t do for himself… most obvious in this particular text is that other people had to help him get from wherever he slept at night to the entrance of the temple. So that’s one thing we can see right away.
- Secondly, I would say he’s probably carrying some shame. And I think there is one clue in the text, and another that you just have to know Jewish culture.
- First, in Jewish culture, people assumed that you got sick or you had a handicap like this because of specific sin. In John 9, Jesus and his boys were walking along and saw a man who had been blind from birth. And the disciples asked Jesus, “rabbi who sinned, this man or his parents?” So no doubt he lived with some family shame, where people said nasty things about his parents to him as they shook their heads.
- Secondly, a clue here in the text is this: In verse 3, He saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, so he would have been looking up. But as soon as he started asking for money, something about his demeanor changed because Peter had to say “Look at us.” I picture him almost ashamedly looking up to see if anyone is coming, and then as soon as they are within earshot, the head goes down, eye-line goes down, and he tries his best to not make eye contact. That’s textbook shame.
But to his surprise, one of them walks over to him and he doesn’t hear the familiar clink in his hand. Instead he hears one of them say “look at me.”
Now, we learned in chapter 2 that Peter and John and the others are putting their money together to help people out, and so it’s possible that Peter and John literally didn’t have any money on them at the moment. But they also realized that money was not what the man needed the most. He needed salvation for his soul and healing for his body, and money couldn’t get either one of those for him (Wiersbe, 412).
He looks up expecting money (What he thinks he needs) and instead finds eye contact (something he’d probably been avoiding most of his life) and an open, empty hand held out to him.  …Peter said, "I don't have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!"
This is the moment of decision for the crippled man, right? Peter is offering to give him the ability to walk instead of money. How can he be so sure he won’t try to stand up and just collapse back onto the ground? How can he be sure this isn’t just another let down like all the others before?
It’s all about the name. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. In other words, it wasn’t Peter reaching out to him – it was Jesus.
 Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong.  So he jumped up and started to walk, and he entered the temple with them-walking, leaping, and praising God.
And so here is the “wonder” part of this whole ordeal…  All the people saw him walking and praising God,  and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him. While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astonished, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade.
Wonder. Amazement. Astonishment. How’d you guys do that?! And just like the wonder of the Holy Spirit showing up during Pentecost gathered a crowd, this draws a crowd too. This guy is running all over the place, he’s acting like a little kid, jumping up and down, walks for a while, then he jumps a couple times, and the whole time, he’s not praising Peter and John – he’s praising God!! And while everyone is clamoring around, asking questions, Peter speaks up, like, what are you looking at? Why are you staring at us, as if we somehow have the power or the godliness to make him walk?
And just like he did at Pentecost, Peter now begins to explain the sign that just happened as he turns a visible presentation of the gospel into a verbal presentation of the gospel, starting with the very covenant that we talked about last week:
 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (That is Yahweh, the Covenant-making God. The God of promise. The serpent-crushing God) the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him.  You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer released to you.  You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this.
Once again, Peter is talking to people who did not physically nail Jesus to the cross. They did not physically beat him, they did not literally kill him. But they were probably some of the ones who were cheering “crucify, crucify.” And like we mentioned earlier in the series – because of Adam’s sin infecting all of humanity, in a very real sense, we are ALL guilty of Jesus’ death.[005 (blank)]:
- In the same way that crippled man was carried to the temple gate, you carried Jesus – not to the temple, but to the Romans! You handed him over to the enemy, and they cared more about him than you did!
- Just like 1000’s of people walked right past this crippled man for 40 years pretending he didn’t exist, you denied Jesus – you pretend he’s not the Holy and Righteous One! You wanted to make sure he stopped existing!
- Just like the religious leaders might have pronounced this crippled man or his parents guilty of sin, you pronounced an innocent man guilty (Jesus), and then asked for the release of someone who actually did deserve to die. You killed the source of life and released a source of death!
He just unloads on them. Sometimes we tippytoe around sin because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Part of our role as the family of God is to speak the truth in love to each other. Look at Peter’s sermon! If he coddles their feelings, or says, I just don’t want to make them feel bad, they will never understand their need for a Savior! They will never see that their sin is against God, that they are guilty and deserve condemnation! So he calls them out. You denied the Holy and Righteous One – that’s what sin is – it’s a denial of the Holiness and righteousness of God! You rejected the source of life, and you chose death instead. That’s what sin is! YOU DID THIS. All of you! You are guilty. It shouldn’t be the crippled man who is ashamed – It should be you!
Peter goes on: You killed the source of life, but God flipped the script and raised him from the dead! He’s not dead anymore, He’s alive! The tomb is empty, and me and John are witnesses of this. We’ve been to the empty tomb, we’ve seen him alive, and it’s   By faith in his name, It’s by faith in everything Jesus is, and everything he has done… it’s by faith in everything that is true about Jesus…that this man has been healed.
That’s what it means to pray something in Jesus’ name, did you know that? When you pray, you often end with, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Why do you say, “In Jesus’ name”? What do you mean when you say that? Jesus told us that whatever we ask in his name, he will do. So what does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name”?
It means that we are praying in faith that whatever I am asking him for, I am asking based on “all that he is and all that he has done” (Stott, 92). And then “Amen” means “let it be so.”
 Every time we end our prayers with, “in Jesus’ name, Amen,” we are saying, “Dear Jesus, because of who you are (as the Great Physician, the healer, the restorer, the Savior of the lost, the Lord of heaven and earth, the Sovereign King, the Holy and Righteous One, the source of life), and because of what you’ve done (by showing us the heart of God; giving us his Spirit, giving us your word, your perfect obedience, your suffering and death, and because of your resurrection and ascension to your throne) let the things that we’ve prayed for come to pass.”
We’re not guaranteed that our prayers will always be answered the way we hope they will – these are not magic words – but to pray “in Jesus’ name” is to say that’s where our faith is. Our faith is in who Jesus is and what he’s done. I’m praying for this lost friend because of who Jesus is and what he’s done. I’m praying for this marriage to be restored because of who Jesus is and what he’s done. I’m praying for healing for this friend because of who Jesus is and what he’s done. I’m praying for peace in Israel, wisdom for our government, praying that God would raise up leaders here in the church, praying that there is a great harvest of souls here in Riverside because of who Jesus is and what he has done.
 By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Jesus [the guy you killed] has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.
I believe Peter means this lame man has received not just physical health, but spiritual health. He has just been physically healed, but he has also been saved by grace because he believed in the name of Jesus – he believed in who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done.
So, do you see the sign? Do you see how the story of this healing points to something deeper? Let’s check it out.
This man was born with a condition he did not ask for. He was born unable to walk. Nothing he did could ever fix his condition. You and I were born with a condition we did not ask for. Like an entire football team suffers the penalty of one player’s illegal action, the entire human race suffers the penalty for one man’s sin. We are born under the penalty of Adam’s rebellion, crippled by sin with no hope of walking in such a way that we please God and live like he wants us to live. We feel the shame of it. We know the guilt of it. We feel the weight of things not being the way they should be.
This man begged for money to help meet his needs. Well, money might meet some needs, but it won’t fix the real need. He had helpers to carry him everywhere he needed to go, and relationships may make things easier, but they don’t solve the problem. Everyone recognized him as the beggar by the gate – popularity is enjoyable, it’s nice to be noticed, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
Just like this man was financially poor, we are all born spiritually bankrupt, and are completely unable to pay the debt we owe the Father. Like this man was stuck outside the temple, the place where God’s presence was, our sin had separated from God’s presence, no matter how close to the door it might look like we are.
But there is one who says “LOOK AT ME!” Jesus didn’t say to this crippled man “Serve me.” He said “LOOK AT ME.” Stop looking for the things of this world to satisfy your needs – Look at me! There is one who exposes the real need that we have, and that is salvation for our soul, healing for our rebellion, rescue from the judgment we rightly deserve.
As that man grabbed Peter’s hand and sat up, he was banking his life on the name of Jesus! That’s the mark of someone who is truly converted and saved! It is faith in the name of Jesus that does the saving! To be a born again, converted believer means that you are banking your life on who Jesus is and what he has done.
This man trusted that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, he would be healed, and instantly, he was healed 100% by the grace of God. It was nothing he did that healed him. Nothing Peter did that healed him. In the same way, a sinner automatically receives the free gift of grace when they trust it to be true!
He jumped up and began praising God for his healing, because that was wo he had banked his hope on. This man was born with a condition he couldn’t do anything about – now he has perfect health and has been set free from that condition! He was as good as dead – now he is alive! He was filled with shame – now he is unashamed! This man was hopeless – now he has the whole world in front of him! This man was separated from the presence of God by his condition – now, he is filled with the presence of God – the Holy Spirit living in him and with him! He had belonged to the kingdom of darkness, and now he’d been transferred into the kingdom of light. THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED GOOD NEWS!
Do you think that he will ever shut up about this? Not a chance. His life will never be the same.
That’s the sign that this whole miracle pointed to! It’s a sign of salvation! Peter has just exposed the spiritual crippledness of every single heart in the crowd. I don’t care if you come to the temple to pray three times a day, I don’t care if you give generously to the crippled guy, I don’t care if you dress up in your Sunday best to come to church – You denied the Holy and Righteous One! You rejected the source of life and chose death instead! – You have no spiritual legs to stand on. You are crippled by your sin, and you are cut off from the people of God.
But…he’s not coming at them in condemnation. Even as he unloads both barrels on them, he’s not brow-beating them, or condemning them, and he has no desire to leave them in that place of shame.
  "And now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your leaders also did.  In this way God fulfilled what he had predicted through all the prophets-that his Messiah would suffer.
I know your leaders taught you that what you were doing was right, and it wasn’t. You didn’t know better. That doesn’t excuse it – they’re still held responsible and accountable for it – but God used their ignorance to fulfill what he predicted, which was that the Messiah would suffer. And now, just like he did to the crippled man, Peter holds out his hand in compassion and love to those listening to his sermon and tells them how that very same Person that they cheered to crucify, the very same Person that they rejected, that very same Person they had denied again and again and again is now the very same Person holding out his hand to them in repentance.
Just like Peter’s hand was just an extension of Jesus inviting the crippled man to trust him to get up and walk, Jesus now invites the crowd to come to him and trust him for forgiveness…
 Therefore, repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out,  that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
“Repent!” Change your mind about Jesus! It is a conversion – a being changed. It means taking action to trust that what God says is true, and when you do that, your sins are wiped out! Are you kidding me?! The sin of denying Jesus = forgiven. Peter himself knows something about that. The sin of rejecting Jesus = forgiven. The sin of rejecting the only true source of life and choosing something that brings death (jealousy and envy, bitterness and hatred, pornography and lust, raging anger, addiction)... FORGIVEN!
It’s the idea of erasing chalk from a chalkboard, or erasing markers from a white board. It’s wiped off. Gone. Forgiveness is the wiping away of your sin, as if it were never there. It’s gone. It’s not coming back.
And what wipes it away? Trusting that who Jesus is and what he has done was necessary for YOU. And trusting it so much that you will gladly, willingly, joyfully, repent of your sin and turn back to Jesus. That’s why he came.[ 011 ]  God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways."
Repentance. Grace. Forgiveness. Seasons of refreshing instead of shame, and all of it moving toward [ 012 ]  the time of the restoration [not only of the crippled feet of one man, but] of all things. And it is through faith in the living, ruling, reigning King Jesus that purchased that restoration.
PRAYER & APPLICATION
[ 013 ] As we go to prayer, I’m going to leave you with two things:
- Where have you (like the crowd in the story) been choosing death over life? Maybe it’s an addiction, maybe it’s that you’re engrossed in TV shows that you know you probably shouldn’t be watching, maybe it’s that you’ve been too busy to pray, too busy to spend time with Jesus in his word or just going for a walk and being alone with him. Maybe it’s holding on to bitterness because someone hurt you, or holding on to pain because it’s too hard to forgive. Maybe it’s that you’re banking your hopes in life on the economy, the government, your spouse, your family, your church – and they are letting you down. Where are you choosing death over life? Confess that to the Lord, and to repent of it means to let it go, and do the opposite.
- Hear the voice of Jesus say “Look at me.” Rejoice in your salvation, which isn’t in hoops to jump through, mountains to climb, trips to make, get your house in order first…. Look at me. How will you do that this week?
Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997)
John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994)
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996)