2 May 2017Acts 3:1-10
“But Peter said, ‘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.’” (v. 6)
Psalm: Psalm 144
Leaving last week's Pentecost-related stories behind, today's passage moves into Acts 3 with Peter and John going to the temple to pray in the afternoon. In spite of their new infilling of the Holy Spirit, these followers of Jesus remained firmly Jewish in upbringing, tradition and customs. Churches, belonging to a new Christian tradition, were still in the future.
A crippled man appealed to Peter and John for some money (verse 3). Presumably begging, or appealing to the generosity of devout people on their way to prayer, enables the crippled man to exist. What Peter and John then offer is something that moves the beggar from reliance on others, to stand, quite literally, on his own two feet; he moves from merely existing to a place that Jesus probably had in mind when he said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). There are also echoes here of Luke 9:1-11, where Jesus sends the twelve disciples without him to, among other signs of the kingdom, heal the sick. Later in the same chapter, faced with a very hungry crowd of people, Jesus challenges those same disciples, "You give them something to eat" (Luke 9:13).
Jesus taught, encouraged and equipped his closest followers to respond to the needs that are all around them. Realising that they now have the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John are clearly emboldened, not in their own strength, but "in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."
Peter and John might have wondered how Jesus would have responded in this situation if he had still been with them. But, of course, they have now received Christ's Spirit. Once they are clear about the power they now have available, they can offer this man the way of transformation that comes with wholeness of life in the name of Jesus. In our own prayer life, how important it is to spend time making sure that what we pray for is not self-centred, but to align ourselves with the Christ who is revealed to us in the Bible, aware of what power lies within us.
- What difference has there been in your own life by being aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit?
- Being filled with God's Spirit is exciting and yet full of responsibility. What might you do today, aware of the indwelling Spirit, that you feel that you could not do in your own strength?