Look At Us! ~ Acts 3: 1-16
This is the first apostolic (Holy Spirit powered) miracle recorded in Acts. This act of God sets off a chain reaction of events for another bold, courageous sermon from Peter. (Healing like this is always for the sake of preaching the greater healing needed – our hearts – for God’s glory). We see that the church's devotion to the basics – leads to action in their community – and scrutiny!
The text states that Peter and John were going to the late-day prayer gathering in the temple (showing that they were still engaging in the Jewish community and ritual – likely to preach and testify about Jesus – where the people were).
They passed through the "Beautiful Gate," which was likely the front, center gate that divided the court of the gentiles from the Jewish, inner courts. Josephus describes this gate as "beautiful," covered in gold and ornate carvings (where you went for pictures and postcards). This was near (under) Solomon's porch and was the site of commerce (where Jesus flipped the tables) and heavy traffic!
This lame man was 'carried' to this position every day (quite a journey up the temple mount). It is unlikely that people carried him there without a kickback. He was likely an 'alms worker,' taken advantage of and used for collecting money. Many schemers and thieves took advantage of the Jewish law of 'alms giving' – and they positioned this man in the perfect place at the ideal time. (What you meant for evil – God meant for good!)
Luke (the doctor) mentions that he was lame from birth. Therefore, it is likely – this man was overlooked, least of the least, taken advantage of, miserable.
The lame, blind, or any handicap could not go any further into the temple courts (Leviticus 21:17-20). This man has never been able to make a sacrifice for himself or take part in the worshipping community inside the inner courts. He was an outsider, dependent on others – passed over, avoided – as other Jews went as they pleased in and out of the temple courts.
Yet – here comes Peter and John – filled with Spirit of God – alive in New covenant power – living stones/tabernacles of God. This lame man is normalized to people avoiding eye contact- pretending he is not there. Peter and John, on the other hand – sees him – 'looked intently at him' – made eye contact.
The Spirit of Christ alive in Peter and John gives them new sight for what God sees. Remember Mark 6:34? When Jesus looked at the crowds following Him, and was 'filled with compassion for they were like sheep without a shepherd.'
"Look at us!" (v.4) I see you! God sees you! Beloved, we worship the God who 'sees'! Remember in Genesis 16:13, when Abraham's slave Hagar was treated unfairly and sent out to die, pregnant with Ishmael? God sought her out in the wilderness - ministered to her, and gave her direction. He said, "I have seen/heard your misery. You are not going to die out here. I am giving to you decedents - too many to count."
Hagar then praises the Lord and calls Him "El Roi," the God who sees me! Later, in Exodus 3:7, God tells Moses in the burning bush, "I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt." Again in 1 Samuel 9:16, "I have looked on my people and heard their cry." Psalm 35:22, "O Lord, you have seen it all; be not silent. O Lord, be not far from me!" Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the wicked and the righteous."
Beloved, our God is El Roi! We have a seeing God! He does not overlook the broken and downtrodden. Where we fail to look – God sees! We wonder if God is still at work in the world? Yes, He is – but we may not be looking! Where the world looks away – God looks at! Therefore, He has called His church to be a looking/seeing church!
"You are expecting silver and gold – I don't have any – but I have something much better – in the name of Jesus of Nazareth – get up and walk!" This lame man probably thought – "oh…they don't have what I want… leave me alone, guys…I don't have time for games…" In his mind – nothing would be better than some silver and gold. That was the only good thing he could possibly receive.
How disappointed this man must have felt when he heard the first words come from Peter. Beloved, never discount your disappointments. Thank God He does not give us what we always want – He has something better – something you actually need! As C.S. Lewis said, "We are far too easily pleased!"
Not only does God see, but He ACTS. He is in the business of restoration and redemption. He is always on the move.
This man stood up, instantly, strengthened, and 'ran into the temple courts’ for the first time – praising God. The worship came from outside – not inside.
Of course, the people recognized this man, who was a fixture of the Beautiful gate, now leaping and dancing in the streets. The people came together in awe. Peter, in a moment of facetiousness, "Does this surprise you? Do you think we did this by our power or magic? You should not be surprised – you remember when Jesus healed like this? He is still doing it!
Through His Holy Spirit! And… it is not happening inside the temple! It is happening out here – via the new temple – the people of God!
The Spirit of God is no longer in the temple. The Spirit (through the work and authority of Jesus) is now dwelling in the living temple of God's people (the disciples). God comes to the lame. God made a better way – tearing the curtain. God went the whole mile – made atonement and now pursues the lost – via His better vehicle – the living tabernacles.
1 Corinthians 3: 9,16, "For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building… Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?"
Peter goes on. The name of Jesus of Nazareth healed this man! Why does this matter? Because Jesus is God! This is El Roi's doing. Why are you surprised? Don't you worship the 'seeing, acting, redeeming' God? This is evidence to you that Jesus is alive, that through His name alone can any work be done. Jesus is reigning in heaven. His arm is reaching out to all…seen and unseen…All for His glory!
This reality was the inspiration behind our new Church logo with the tent icon. In Christ, our church and our lives are now living tabernacles (tents) for the presence of God to dwell and inhabit. We know that the church is not merely a location or building – but a Spirit-filled people!
Glenhaven church should go with you. It is portable, like the tabernacle tent was! Will you be a tent of God's presence for the lost? Will you be a tabernacle for your brother and sisters in Christ? Will you open your eyes to the things of God?