Faithlife Sermons

So Lame

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:40
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Peter heals the lame man at the beautiful gate. Peter realizes his own poverty and the immeasurable value of the power and authority he has in the name of Jesus. In imitation of his Master, he gives the lame man what the man never dared to hope for. When we reach our end He is just getting started.

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So Lame

This was me in 1998. I was in a band. I was in a band guys! So cool!
The internal experience of that was so incredibly cool. It is only looking back that I can recognize something that probably none of you realized.
I wasn’t that cool. In fact
Can we get a closer look at that?
Those were the years I went Barefoot everywhere. Lame.
Those the years I was incredibly Arrogant (the only years ;) ).
Sporting 90s frosted tips.
And is that a fleece vest? Yes it is, thanks for asking.
So lame!!!
God used me anyway.
So far beyond what I deserved. What was appropriate to my limited talent, my non-existent experience. We were broke and inexperienced and kind of dumb. But God used us again and again to minister to people in churches and camps and parks all over the country.

Healing the Lame Beggar

Acts 3:1–10 ESV
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
When I was a kid I learned this one as a song:
Peter and John went to pray
They met a lame man on the way
He held out his palm,
to ask them for alms
and this is what Peter did say
Silver and gold have I none
But such as I have give I thee
In the name of Jesus Christ
Of Nazareth rise up and walk
He went walking and leaping and praising God
He went walking and leaping and praising God
In the name of Jesus Christ
Of Nazareth rise up and walk

Beggar’s Perspective

Step with me into the shoes of the beggar.
For more than 40 years, born lame. So lame!
Carried everyday to the gate to the temple. Why? Because that was a great panhandling spot. Lots of traffic, lots of people walking past. And best yet, they are feeling guilty because God tells them they should give alms.
And look at that beautiful gate. There are some famously beautiful gates in the temple. The “beautiful” Nicanor gate, huge and covered in bronze… but the beggar may not have been allowed that far. Perhaps another gate, further out. Scholars aren’t sure.
But it’s his spot. And the word “beautiful” here also can mean “happening at the right time.” And today is the just the right time for the lame beggar.
There he is, asking for alms. I imagine, like panhandlers today, people avoid catching his eye because then they feel obligated to give. So, laying by the gate, asking and asking, and having most people walk by without a word.
So when someone does catch his eye, a direct gaze, he thinks SWEET! I am about to get something. Eager expectation.
And then the disappointment. He would NOT get what he asked for. This guy’s got no money, what good is he to me? He babbles something about an executed criminal, then grabs his hand and pulls.
Who does that to a cripple? Without permission? What is expected next? Dragging him around by the hand?
Instead, maybe sensation spreading through his ankles, through his feet. His feat plant and instead of being dragged by the hand he is pulled upright.
Maybe very first time in his entire life he has stood freely. And then a step. And then another step. Atrophied muscles made strong, muscle memory instantly gained. And then a leap, just to try. It worked. Walking and leaping, and what to do with the rush of incredible joy?
What was the name Peter spoke? Jesus Christ (the Messiah). He went walking and leaping and praising the God who had saved him and healed him completely.
He got something far better than what he asked for. Even better than the healing, he received the name of Jesus.

Peter’s Perspective

What was this like from Peter’s perspective?
Walking into the temple. Another regular time of prayer, every three hours while the temple was open. Looking for opportunities to teach, going in pairs, probably because that is the way their Master used to send them out.
What opportunity will God deliver today? At the end of Acts 2 it says the apostles were performing signs and wonders. We get an example of one of those, not necessarily the first, but a prototypical example.
I imagine Peter: what will God do through me today?
And then, an opportunity. Someone in need. Well God commands generosity and caring for the needy. Look, there is someone needy. God gives him eyes to see one in need. The nudge to approach him.
And then, I like to imagine the pat-down. Oh. Where’s my wallet?
Oh no, I gave all mine back at church. John, you?
Oh man.
Acts 3:6 ESV
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
Could have ended there. Oh well. Avoid eye contact. Move on. I can’t help him, someone else will.
Or what if Peter had had a coin. Flip the coin to the beggar and move on, knowing that you served, knowing that you’re blessed.
Instead, Peter comes up empty. The end of his purse. Silver and gold have I none...
But Peter is sitting on the sure knowledge that he possesses something of far greater value that he can give. The name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Peter realizes his own poverty and the immeasurable value of the power, authority and identity he has in the name of Jesus.
The name that can restore the lame man to perfect health.
And that is just the foretaste of what Peter is fully declaring, the salvation of mankind in the name of Jesus.
It is the name of Jesus which the Pharisees will find offensive.
It is the name of Jesus Peter and John will continue to speak with boldness.
Peter realizes his own poverty and the immeasurable value of the power and authority he has in the name of Jesus.

How-To Heal?

We could read this text as a manual: how to supernaturally heal people. We see the faith of Peter, imitation of Jesus, the master. The confidence with which he pulled the man to his feet. We could seek here and feel guilty about our own lack of supernatural power.
Is there supernatural healing today in the name of Jesus? Yes.
Does God heal every time and always in this way? No. Physical healing in this life is always just a foretaste of ultimate healing.
What is more, I wonder how many times Jesus walked past this man. Outside the feasts, Jerusalem is like a smallish town. Everyone knows everyone. We read later, this guy was well known around the place such that people recognized him.
Regardless of which gate is the “beautiful” gate, it is likely that Jesus walked through that gate many times in his three years of ministry. Right past the lame beggar. Time and time again, no healing for you today.
There was an appointed time. A “beautiful” time. A great work appointed in advance for Peter to do.
Peter realizes his own poverty and the immeasurable value of the power and authority he has in the name of Jesus.
In imitation of his Master, he gives the lame man what the man never dared to hope for

When we reach our end, He is just getting started

When we reach our end… God is just getting started.
He doesn’t start there. He was working there the whole time. If we have silver and gold, if we have treasure, He provided that. It isn’t wrong to use that for His work. Peter worked as a fisherman, he had silver and gold at some point, it’s just that he was out.
God doesn’t start when we run out of silver and gold, or of energy, or of creativity, or of talent. He provides the energy, the creativity, the talent and the treasure. He provides it to be used.
But we get so confused about the value of what we have to offer. Here is the collection of things I have to offer:
everything I have...
and the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Name calls upon the identity, the self, and being able to SPEAK in the name means that we are His in the deepest sense. We are in Him, wrapped up in His domain, His self, His person, sealed to him by the Holy Spirit.
We overestimate the value of what we “have” and radically misunderstand the incredible value of the name of Jesus.
The end of myself.
Preaching story
I have shared this story before. Pouring everything into a sermon in seminary and reaching the absolute end of myself. But God was only getting started. All the real power and glory was in His Word and His name.
Last week, Brandon poured into his sermon. Preparation for months. He reached the end of Himself, but God had infinitely more to give.
Where is your poverty? Where have you reached the end?
I am out. I am tapped. I am out of treasure. Silver and gold have I none!
I am out of talent. I don’t know how to do the next thing.
I am out. I am empty. Out of patience. Out of time. Out of chances.
Where are you feeling empty and emptied out? That may be the place God is most able to work, where you can see that all you have left to give, the very best of what you could possibly give, is the name of Jesus.
You speak, pray, act and live in the name of Jesus.
That is more than what anyone is expecting from you... and it is what they desperately need. He is only getting started working through you.
Silver and gold?
Oh… I don’t have any more of that.
But such as I have I give you.
I have the name of Jesus. I am His.
and I have the ridiculous power and privilege of speaking in His name.
Of living in his name.
And in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!
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