Acts 4:1-13 4 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’[a] 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
The back story for this passage in Acts 4 involves the healing of a man who was lame from birth. He had been carried to the temple gate where he sat and begged money from those who were going to the temple. Peter and John were on their way to the temple and encountered the man who asked them for money. Peter replied by saying, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
The lame man who was begging hadn’t been looking for healing and greater access to God. He just wanted to be supported in the condition that he was in. Jesus wanted to completely change his condition, and that is what happened. Some people settle for support when God desires to give them a complete transformation. Sometimes, we as believers settle for supporting someone with a little help here and there when God wants us to believe for the greater miracle of transformation that He longs to give people through us. Peter was willing to stick out his hand, to exercise faith along with the man, to believe that Jesus would perform a miracle of transformation. Too often we are content to give a hand-out in support rather than to put our hand out in faith to believe for a real-life change for people.
Just what are we willing to believe for those whose lives need more than support? One Bible scholar said, “It is not the Church’s business in this world to simply make the present condition more bearable; the task of the Church is to release here on earth the redemptive work of God in Christ.” (LaSor) Do you believe God wants to empower us to bring real life change to the world? Peter did. Had Peter and John had money to give the man and just been content to support him in his current condition, he wouldn’t have experienced the full transformation that he did. The healing changed his physical body, but the byproduct was a total life transformation.
The man was healed and the people in the temple recognized him as the guy who used to sit at the temple gate and beg and they were totally astonished. They started gathering around Peter, John and the man. Notice what verse 11 says, “While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade”.
Peter seized the opportunity to begin explaining to the crowd that what happened to the man wasn’t just a healing. What happened to the man was an encounter with Jesus. The miracles that took place in the book of Acts, the miracles that take place in our day, aren’t just meant for the persons who experience God’s healing power, but they are for the glory of God to be displayed to those who hear about the miracle. The crowd in the temple was about to hear about far more than a change in the man’s physical condition. You see, When God brings healing to a life it provides an opportunity for others to be transformed.
Peter didn’t just tell the people that Jesus healed the man, but he explained who Jesus was. He said it was by Jesus’ power that the man was healed and listen to what he said next:
YOU handed him over to be killed, and YOU disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 YOU disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 YOU killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that YOU acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 REPENT, then, and turn to God, so that YOUR SINS may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, [a]
Look at the boldness of Peter to call out those who were present! Now, they weren’t the only ones who handed Jesus over to be killed or who rejected Jesus as the Messiah, but they were the ones Peter was able to talk to in that moment. Peter’s words may sound heavy-handed, but I think they were testimonial in nature. He, himself, had denied knowing Jesus, had abandoned Jesus in His darkest hour. His call to repentance, to having sin wiped out in-order to experience times of refreshing was a compassionate and compelling call from one who had experienced Jesus’ forgiveness personally. He knew what it was like to fail the Lord, to fail to follow the Lord, to put faith in self instead of in the Word of the Lord, and Peter knew what it was like to be restored, to be reinstated, what it was like to recover from having gotten it wrong. He didn’t want the crowd that was gathered there to miss that experience.
A greater miracle was happening than the miracle of the healing of the man. We read in chapter four that those who had converted to follow Christ had been about 3000 people before this healing and after this healing, the number became 5000. One man’s healing added 2000 more souls to the Kingdom.
The growing number of believers in the resurrection of Christ troubled the religious elite. Look again at Acts 4 and take note of how many people opposed Peter and John. Notice, also, how many of them were part of the same players that had ganged up on Jesus. The same Peter who had cowered and denied knowing Jesus when a servant girl asked him if he was one of Jesus’ followers after Jesus was arrested was all of the sudden filled with courage and power to stand with Jesus and to stand for Jesus and to proclaim Jesus to the very people who had been part of the group that formally called for Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter and John would not be intimidated by an overnight prison stay or their questions.
Verse 8: 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’[a] 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Allow me some quick points:
Alignment with Jesus will produce great courage.
In the face of opposition, Peter stood tall. Just as he called out the temple crowd the day before, he also called out the religious leaders in verse 10 of chapter 4. Peter’s courage indicated his commitment to declare the truth no matter what the personal cost would be to himself.
Alignment with Jesus is enabled by the Holy Spirit.
Peter didn’t rely on self to perform the miracle, to preach the word or to answer the questions.Verse 8 tells us he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he was filled in that moment. That is who he counted on to give him the ability to speak and to know what to say.
Alignment with Jesus will compel us to talk about Him.
When Peter and John healed the lame man, they did so in the Name of Jesus. When they explained to the temple crowd in chapter 3:16 how the man was healed, they reiterated it was in the Name of Jesus. Their story was the same in chapter 4:10 as they said they had done the miracle in the Name of Jesus. Even when ordered to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, Peter said he couldn’t help but speaking about what he had seen and heard (Acts 4:20).
Alignment with Jesus will result in miracles that bring other people to Jesus.
2000 more people put their belief in Jesus after the healing of the lame man. I am glad the lame man received healing, but I am even more ecstatic that 2000 more people came into the Kingdom of God because that is a greater miracle. The salvation of souls are the greatest miracles we could be used of God to see completed in people’s lives.
Is anyone taking note that you have been with Jesus? Does your life reflect courage to live for Christ? Do people see the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit? Are you a name dropper when it comes to working Jesus into conversation? Are people coming into the Kingdom because of your commitment to let Him live His life through you?