April 17, 2021
Acts 3:1-10 (NRSV)
Laity, Piney Flats UMC
Three Rivers District
Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar
3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. 4 Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,[a] stand up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
So calm. So self-assured! When asked for alms by the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, Peter said simply, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”
But such was not always the case. This is the same Peter who, when Jesus predicted he would thrice deny him, so indignantly protested, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” (Mark 14:31) Yet his weakness born of human frailty and his fear for his own life led him to deny his Christ, as Jesus had foreseen.
This is the same John who, with his brother James, came to Jesus and prevailed upon him, “grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (Mark 10:37) Jesus, knowing that they foresaw an earthly kingdom that would make all things right, responded, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38)
The gospels recount many failures of Jesus’ disciples and Jesus’ frustration with their lack of faith … indeed, their “unbelief.” in Matthew 17:20-21, when they could not cast out a demon, the problem was not their intellectual acceptance of Jesus and what he stood for; the problem was the lack of a living faith in His divine omnipotence.
So how did Peter, John, and the other early Apostles gain such a complete measure of faith in the power of Jesus to allow them to perform such miracles? Jesus promised in John 14:15-31 that he would not leave them orphaned but would intercede with the Father to send them an Advocate, the spirit of truth, to remain and abide with them.
Just as with the spiritual journeys of Peter and John, so it is for us today. We will have moments of “sleep” when the Holy Spirit needs us to be “awake.” We will have times when we “scatter,” away from God’s prodding. We may even follow Him but, like Peter, at a distance because of our weakness and fears.
But Good News! Our God is faithful, but persistent! God speaks but sometimes in a still, small voice. May we have open ears, open minds, and open hearts to respond to God’s call. Miraculous things continue to happen because of those who allow themselves to be the hands and feet of Jesus. May we hear and feel His call upon us and respond with the certain faith of Peter, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth … .”