Tuesday, October 7, 2014

That Name! Part I

I was reading this story in the book of Acts the other day and saw something I've never seen before. It seems that people haven't really changed much since the time of Jesus' ministry on earth, and after His ascension to Heaven.  The mere mention of His name would either make folks squirm or smile. And speaking of Him by name, praying and ministering in His name and so on could get you into a lot of trouble with the law back then. Sounds familiar in our day and time, doesn't it?

Not long after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and filled the disciples, just as Jesus promised, Peter and John went to the temple one day at the usual hour of worship.

Worshippers were entering the temple courts, including the political, religious and government leaders who had recently arrested Jesus, mocked, beaten, slapped, spit on and sent Him to His death.

All the people were obviously aware of their sin, as they had come to pray and offer their animal blood sacrifices to cover their sin, for which Jesus had just done, but they rejected.

Outside the temple were the usual beggars, lame and sick people asking for money and gifts for the poor as the crowds entered the temple.

A lame man saw Peter and John through the crowd and asked them for money. I wonder if he knew they’d been with Jesus who was recently crucified by the very leaders entering the temple. He’d also probably heard that this same Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. I’m sure he’d also heard of the thousands of new Christians nearby.

When the disabled man spoke, Peter stopped and looked straight at him.

Their eyes locked.
Only the sound of goats, lambs, and doves could be heard in the background.

Peter, full of the Holy Spirit and probably overwhelmed with compassion, felt a burning boldness to do more than just give this man money.

As the dust swirled around the disabled man from the passing crowds, Peter walked over to him and told him he didn’t have any money to give him, but said, “what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” Acts 3:6 (NKJ).

He did this right in front of the crowds and all those important leaders!

Immediately the disabled man’s feet and ankle bones received strength, after being this way for over 40 years. Peter grabbed him by the hand and pulled him to his feet for the first time in his life. The man started joyfully leaping and praising God, as he went into the temple with his new friends. I don’t imagine it was a quiet, reverent scene. Oh, no.

Here were Peter and John, who the leaders already knew were Jesus followers. The same Jesus who the crowds who’d just witnessed this miracle had demanded the prisoner Barabbas be released in Jesus’ place sending Him to His death. These two guys had just committed blasphemy in all their eyes.

They all thought if they killed Jesus, their threat of power, money and pride would be gone. I’m sure some were aghast at the seemingly disrespect of the holy and serene quietness of the temple, as this man entered with Peter and John praising the name of Jesus by which he’d just been healed.

I feel sure Peter and John didn’t shush him. I bet others wished they would’ve.

The lame man’s body was not the only thing healed that day. His heart now was like the other thousands of new Christians, bursting with joy, as he began his new life with Jesus. I imagine he must’ve joined the rest of the Christians, after Peter and John were arrested for what they’d just done. Those bad boys.

Stay tuned as the story continues when Peter and John were arrested and jailed for reaching out to a poor, disabled beggar in the name of Jesus.

In Jesus’ name,