What a joy. It is to gather together and worship once again. I was sitting there and just looking at the beautiful work done. Here are the flowers and just a reminder of life in the presence of death, what a great reminder for us this morning, As we prepared to look at our scripture, this morning, we are going to look and journey through a passage. That is part of a larger experience or occurrence. It's a whole experience that takes place over two chapters of the book of Acts. So really, it's for the mathematician out there. It's 1/14th of the whole book of Acts and we're going to look at just one part of that to chapter occurrence. and in so doing we get a window into the early church a window into some of that beginning work that the church, the early Believers, the early, early followers of Jesus Christ committed themselves to and in that window we really get An orientation. A way of positioning ourselves. Now, if you've Been in scouts at all. You know what a orrientation is, you know, it is to get orientated. You get that time where you play with a compass and you find North and maybe even true north and with that, you can start to find your proper direction. So this morning we are going to look at a passage that orientates us but before we do so because our passage isn't at the start, but is a little ways in, we need to kind of go back to the beginning. We need to talk about what happens before, what we read this morning. So, let me just fill you in with a passage that you are likely familiar with that. I'll recall to your mind. Peter and John two of Jesus' followers were making their way up to the temple for prayer. It was around the ninth hour or what we think of, as 3 in the afternoon, it was probably for the, one of the two or three prayer times that took place at the temple during the day. It was likely the time that the evening sacrifice that a kind of slid back towards mid-afternoon, likely the time that that sacrifice to place and so they would gather for prayer. And as a sacrifices will be taking place for God they would pray and really their prayers would be an incense to God is all the Jews gathered in the temple there. So Peter and John were making their way for this occasion for this time of day. They were going in for that time of prayer. And as they went to enter the Temple Mount, they went through one of the gates before they ate were able to go through. They encountered a beggar.
Much like we would encounter someone as we're driving along on Stadium Drive at one of the different stops.
They encountered a beggar, who was lame. Lame from birth. In other words, this man had never walked before in his life. If we read forward towards the end of this whole, larger occurrence will find out that he was well over 40 years of age. And there he was to beg. Noah person in such time as this, who is lame really did not have resources. Family might take care of them when they were younger, but being well, over 40 is likely those who used to take care of them are long gone and matter of fact living to 40 was a good age. At the very least someone or some group takes the effort to place him there in front of the Temple Gate each day. To place him so that he can beg. For his next days, living. In the Roman World such people were considered weak. They had no strength. It will look down upon. in the Hebrew world, it was expected that you would give or take care of, but at the same time, there was this underlying tone that God had in some way judged that person
Furthermore. Because of his condition. Because his legs were never ever used the atrophy or perhaps even the disfiguration was very visible. Such that anyone going into the temple, if they pass through this gate among the many gates, would probably know this, man, maybe not know his name, but they'd seen him before he became a fixture of the temple, which is evident later when so many people can recognize who he is. Peter and John are going to make their way through. And for whatever reason, there's an engagement between the beggar and them in which they say to this lame, man.
Gold and silver. I do not have But what I do have, I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk. Well, he does more than that. He not only stands up, he leaps. He's with boundless, Joy jumping around. Believe me, I kind of want to jump around myself right now, but I'm over 40, and it's not as easy as that. And yeah, he is and I imagine too many people in his age category were suddenly envious the idea that someone who's been lame all their life with stand-up is astounding, that they can walk will be even more amazing that he's leaping and running around.
That's where we begin. Our passage today. So let's pray that God would open his word to us. Oh, Lord, may we hear your word?
You've already caught our attention just as you caught the many who suddenly saw that this lame man could walk and leap. You caught are attention? Oh Lord. and may you now with your spirit plant, your word deep into our hearts, And may everything everything within us. Spring forth from this, good news. We pray that Jesus in your precious name. Amen. Going to read one additional verse before. What will be on the screen? It says in verse 11 of chapter 3 while he, that is the lame man clung to Peter, and John, all of the people on early astonished ran together to them in the Portico called Solomon's.
Pick it up now, with the reading. And when Peter saw it, he addressed the people. Men of Israel. Why do you wander out this? Why do you stare at us as though by our own power or piety? We have made him walk.
The god of Abraham, the god of Isaac, and the god of Jacob, the god of our fathers. Glorified his servant Jesus. Whome, you delivered over and denied in the presence of pilot. When you decide to release him. But you deny the holy and righteous one. And ask for a murderer to be granted to you. And you killed the author of life. Whom God raised from the dead to this, we Are Witnesses. And his name. by faith in his name, has made this man's strong, whom you see and know and that Faith. The faith. That is through Jesus has given the man. This perfect health in the presence of you all.
and now, Brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of the prophets that his Christ would suffer. He thus fulfilled. Repent, therefore, and turn back that your sins may be blotted out.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
I said it was orientation. A chance to get focused. On where we are. And where we going? So as we look at this passage, as we begin to get our orientation. We must first begin with the idea of wonder. Wonder.
Before we read today, it said that they were filled with wonder and amazement.
They were filled with wonder and amazement.
and then that verse I read just before reading the passage that they were utterly astonished, Which was a fancy way of saying they were really, really, really, really. Really full of wonder. Matter fact, as I look at the word for utterly astonished, it occurs once and all the New Testament. I'm not convinced that the got the gospel writer, Luke didn't make that word up. His way of trying to emphasize that Wonder.
If we just take Luke, who is the author of Acts Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and also the book of Acts. If we just take a quick survey over the many different ways, he uses Wonder.
Much is revealed.
He was in wonder. That the people saw that, Jesus. Cast out an evil spirits. It was in wonder. That not just one boat, but two boats were so filled with fish because of Jesus that they began to sink they were full of wonder.
it was in wonder that John the Baptist's father who was a priest who went into the inner Temple and when he came out and couldn't speak, people were full of wonder and nine months later when he finally wrote that his son's name was to be John when he wrote it out on a tablet and suddenly, he could speak again, the people were full of wonder
When the Shepherds suddenly had the Angels appear to them and they went and shared all that the angels and said to them when they share that with Mary and Joseph Mary and Joseph were full of wonder.
When Mary and Joseph, first took that little one. First took him into the temple when he couldn't walk for himself, was yet an infant. And this old man who been in the temple, all these many years came over and took him into his arms and held. Jesus looked out on him and said to Mary and Joseph, that he was going to be the restoration of Israel. Mary. And Joseph were full. Of wonder.
When the people in Jesus's hometown of Nazareth. Heard him speak to them and teach them in the synagogue. This Hometown boy, this Jesus we know Jesus and there is in the synagogue. Unrolls The Scroll of Isaiah reads for them, puts it back and said today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. They were full of wonder
When the disciples.
Encountered the empty tomb. They were full of. Wonder.
Wonder. We are full of wonder when we don't understand when something happens. That is way outside of the ordinary and expected. When something happens that shouldn't be able to happen. When something happens, in which we say to ourselves, was that a miracle? One of my children is doing driver's training right now. Pray for me.
But I go back to my oldest child. Who did driver's training. And I remember that she was driving and Suzanne was with her in the passenger seat in New Jersey. And in New Jersey, if you don't know, the roads are there very narrow in places. It's and there's something down. It's like they've been carved into the landscape. And she had a tendency to hug the line, and I was in the car behind following them home. And I remember there was this enormous tree, right? At the side of the road and they were driving closer, and closer. And I remember praying and screaming, you can call her prayers scream. I don't care. Lord save them because for sure they were going to kiss that tree.
Wonder of Wonder, you won't believe me, but that tree moved.
Wonder. They were full of wonder. Wonder at what had happened. They knew this man. It's not like, well, they said this, but we don't know, know the people were running from all over the Temple mount. They knew that guy. He was well over forty years of age, they knew him.
You could not deny that this man who was lame. Visibly lame was now standing walking leaping. They ran from all over the Temple Mount. Let me give you a sense of the picture. What? That is the Temple. Mount was enormous. This whole church structure, all 46,000 square feet would not. It's not as large as the Temple Mount was we would fit in the footprint of it, it was enormous. Let me describe to you how it worked. There was the holy of holies that place within the temple itself that the high priest would go. But once a year, And just outside of that still in the temple itself was the most was the Holy room in which the priests would go and make daily prayers and place. A John's father went into when he met the angel, there was the table and the candle stand and the incense One layer out from that going outside. And what you? And I would think of the temple was this kind of Courtyard in which the sacrifices took place in which the men of Israel were also allowed to be. Outside of that outside of that structure of the temple. Was the next layer. Where the courtyard with the women? I'm sorry women. So, if you're keeping track with me, we're now four layers out. But outside of that was yet another barrier, a barrier that was put to keep the Gentiles out. Think of it as a low standing fence, in which the Gentiles, the non-jews were not allowed to go beyond, but both men and women Jews could before they went to the Courtyard of the women and then further into the courtyard of men. And then, if you were a priest, you could go into the most the holy place. And then if you were a high priest, the most holy place, but in that courtyard, outside of the Gentiles were allowed within the Temple Mount. There was still another outer ring. That outer ring for the whole Temple was surrounded by Colonnades or a portico or what you. And I would think of as a porch A massive portico that went all the way around some places, two columns deep or four columns deep, and on the east side, the side that the temple face on the east side, was this long Colonnade, this long Portico, this long porch called the Solomons portica.
Named after King Solomon. He was on the east side. And it was into this space that Peter and John had just made into the Temple mount. And that the lame man is leaping and holding on to them, it's into this space. They've come. And in that space, it was normal for teachings, to take place for rabbis to gather and their followers to be around them and to learn and grow and understand. It is into this space. They haven't even made it into the larger parts of the whole Temple construct. Its into this space of teaching that the people are suddenly running from all over the temple to come and see because they are full of wonder. Keep in mind, the sacrifice the evening sacrifice is going on. All the focus has to be on God, and I'm sure the priests were still carrying out their duties, but everyone else is coming or as Luke records It running to see what has happened.
Time. For orientation.
Peter and John Suddenly find themselves. These two followers of Jesus, these two nobodies, they suddenly find themselves in the position of having to teach all those who gathered, men of Israel, they say,
Why are you full Of wonder? In other words, stating the obvious. Why did you run here?
And the orientation begins with putting the focus, the true north. On the one on whom we should be focused. You see they're looking at the lame man and they're looking from the lame man to the next question of how did this happen? How is it that he now walks there? Now looking to Peter and John as if they are something.
And Peter quickly, dispenses them of the idea recognizing there staring at them. When you stare at someone you're staring so that you keep your focus on and I'm sorry to make you uncomfortable. Mike, but here it is. Now I'm going to just preach at you the rest of the time. Are you ready for this? Notice that Mike is getting redder even as I talk to him, right? All right. The focus in life is Bring it on. OK. so the focus is going and the stare remains because to pull away for a second is fear that I might miss something. They are staring at Peter and John and fear that they might miss. Something of understanding how and Peter takes that Focus and he redirects it. He says you think you got North I'm going to show you true north.
He says the god of Abraham.
The God Who gave our Father, Abraham a promise. The God who recognized that we are broken and fallen from the very beginning with Adam Eve, that God the God, gave our Father, Abraham, a promise of descendants and of land. And he gave our Father, Abraham, a promise of descendants and land. So that we as a people Might be a blessing to all people. Not that we're better but rather we've been tasked to carry God's message of love and Reconciliation. God chose a people to carry God's message of love. The problem is God's people continue to get off script.
So Peter says, the god of Abraham. The god of Isaac, Abraham's son, the god of Jacob, Abraham's grandson, the god, of our fathers. This God, let's be clear on who we're talking about the guy that you worship here at this Temple. The God, we worship this God, The One and Only God this God has chosen.
To glorify. Jesus.
Peter saying is the Baton has been passed. The promise has been passed. The message of love and Reconciliation has been passed to Jesus.
Now, that's a big jump.
That's a challenge. For the people and Peter recognizes it and goes right to the heart of the matter. See, if we have a proper orientation, the next question, or the next step, if you properly oriented is now, you know how to move if we're not properly oriented, and we don't know where North from South East from West, chances are, we're going to drive a long ways going in the wrong direction. my wife is brilliant in every way, but she will tell you the directions in the car is a little bit of a struggle for her. So growing up east of Albany, her mom always told her Hey when in doubt always just Drive East because everything was over on the Albany side, So when in doubt always Drive East, the problem was, she was already East one time and the next thing she knows she knew she was nearing Boston.
If you're not properly orientated, you can easily go in the wrong direction.
I'm just thinking about how my family is going to bust on me all my problems. But the where I'm going is we must have the proper direction.
only when we have the proper orientation and so Peter, now moves into the direction and he says look
We've been wrongly, orientated. This Jesus and catch what he does here. The focus is upon death.
You traded for a murderer. someone who is taken life you traded for someone who's taken life and gave up the one who gives life He wants them to catch the irony. He wants us to catch the irony. The one who takes life?
You wanted instead of the one who gives life. And then, that is a reminder to us of how we live. There is so much. That we do in our lives. That is a slow-moving death. There's so much we take in or or whether what we eat or drink, how we behave, how we take care of ourselves. So much in our life can take from us. And even if we're unwilling to look at ourselves, it's easy for us to see it in others. How many of us in this room are worried about our children and our grandchildren and the decisions they are making because we can see the decisions that they are making, which they are saying, it's no big deal. We can see those decisions are on a path. That is a big deal.
and we lived lives of daily morning for that reality for them and for ourselves,
And peter is saying this is our problem.
We think we're living and yet we keep choosing death.
The reality of what the prophet said throughout the Old Testament, we're not doing what God called us to do. We keep choosing our own path and it's a path of death. And so when it came to a time which we have the author of life before us. Peter says.
But the good news is this.
The good news is this that the one we put to death, God said enough.
And he brought him back to life. Amen.
Peter says to them and to us, you know what, we've been making the wrong choices all along, we think we're oriented on God and we keep choosing ourselves and we keep choosing a path of death. And so what do we do with what the author of life to death and God says enough, he's alive. And he's alive so that we may be a alive.
And then Peter makes the next step. Pushing us off this focus on our own death. Pushing us off to choose and see life. He makes the next step and saying, look I know you were ignorant of what you did.
That's our problem. We're ignorant of the choices we make even when we think we're making the right choice were making the wrong choice.
Peter said, let me tell you what the next step is. Once you recognize that God has sent his son Jesus to die for you. To take off your sins. To give over his ability to forgive and make you holy clean before God. To make you free from all the good, the bad, everything else. And now you can live totally for Christ. Peter said, the next step is
To let go. Of those sins that we cling to, you know, I think about this often.
Why would anybody cling to something that's destructive for themselves?
Weather it's an attitude to behavior or some kind of activity. Why would anybody do something? This destructive for themselves? The two basic reasons. One, we've allowed ourselves to be deceived that it's not destructive. That it's not a big deal.
And secondly. Somehow whatever we're holding on to. Makes us feel better for the moment.
And yet it's killing us.
Peter says. Turn. Just turn. Repent, which is to turn. From your sins. Like all of them. Lego that with your clinging to let go of that, which is given you comfort. Let go and keep your orientation fully on the author of life. The one that we cannot destroy the one that we cannot push away for God has sent him. For us.
Peter had an enormous audience that day.
Very soon, the religious leaders are going to crack down.
They will soon be filled with wonder. That these country bumpkins.
Are full of the Holy Spirit. And will not let go of the message. That God has sent his son. To save us.
Let's reorientate ourselves. Let's keep Jesus as our Focus. Let's live into what we've got on the outside of a building. That Christ is first And we are second. Let us pray.