Bible Passage: Acts 3:1-26
Acts 3 sits alongside Acts 2:42-47 in showing the life of the early Jerusalem church, but now the focus has moved from what the internal life of the church was like to an example of how the church interacted with those around them. The chapter shows the healing of a man who could not walk, and then a spontaneous sermon from Peter in response to the crowd’s astonishment at the healing.
Compassion and Healing: The central narrative of the chapter is found in verses 1-10 where Peter and John are on the way into the temple and a man who could not walk asked them for money. It is noteworthy that the apostles were not the ones to initiate the conversation, but they did engage and give the man their attention once he had cried out to them (many of the healings performed by Jesus follow this same pattern). They did not have money to give, but instead healed him in Jesus’ name. The healing happened straight away and it wasn’t even prayed for, but just declared. It shows the power of the Spirit working in the early church continuing the work of Jesus. This is a narrative text, and it would be wrong to take it as a pattern for every interaction (nothing suggests this happened with every person they met), but it would also be wrong to dismiss the example it sets of the power of the Spirit at work. We can and should be seeking to see God bring his healing and compassion to those around us.
Proclamation of Jesus: The miraculous healing (understandably) caused a stir, and people ran to see. Peter took the opportunity to address them, and he put the focus straight onto Jesus. Often it is easy to spend a long time talking about the secondary things, but Peter knew that the healing was testament to the power of Jesus, and he told them this. It was another opportunity to explain the cross and the resurrection, and for many of the crowd it was deeply personal as they had been around when it happened. They knew Peter was speaking truth as he shared how they had rejected and killed Jesus, but God had the final say and raised him to life.
Call for Repentance: Peter was not shy to name what the people had done, but from v17 he also shows compassion and understanding, explaining that they had acted in ignorance. His big application was for them to repent, and with this came the promise that their sins would be wiped out and that times of refreshing would come. There is hope for all of us in life, but the starting point in this hope is turning from sin and trusting in Jesus.
- You could offer prayer for healing as part of the response to the sermon.
- Challenge people about how they see those with need that they encounter. Do they walk on by or do they stop and help?
- Invite people to repent and turn to Jesus for their sins to be blotted out.