Saturday, October 7, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 3-4

Attitudes toward the physically handicapped have evolved over the years, as has our vocabulary to define them.  The words crippled, lame and physically challenged evoke mental pictures of men and women who overcome extraordinary obstacles to live productive lives.  Fortunately, 21st century society has accommodated the infirmed and given them opportunities of independence never dreamed of only a century ago.

Such was not the case in Bible times when first century Jews looked upon a physical handicap as a judgment from God for some great sin in a person’s life or family.  Making that assumption, when the disciples spied a man “blind from his birth” they asked Jesus, “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:1-3).

The subject of our reading in Acts 3-4 had no doubt experienced the self-righteous judgment of many who passed through the gates of the Temple.  Some pitied him, but many gave little notice and considered him little more than a daily nuisance when they made their way to the Temple for worship and prayer.

Consider what we know about the man who’s miraculously healing caused a great stir among the Jews and their religious leaders.

He was forty years old and “lame from his mother’s womb” (Acts 3:2; 4:23).  He had never known the joy of walking, running or playing with his peers.  He was a burden to his family, who carried him to the gate of the Temple where he begged for coins to feed himself and his family (Acts 3:2).  He was well-known in Jerusalem, begging daily at the gate of the Temple (Acts 3:9-10), he was an object of charity for some and scorn for others who wondered out loud if his malady was not caused by sin.

There is much we might consider in this man’s healing and the events that followed it; however, let us ponder one question and some principles we can derive from it.  Why was he born a cripple and what good did his life serve?

God allows afflictions in our lives as opportunities for His power and glory to be displayed.  Job said of his afflictions, “[the LORD] knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).  For some, the will and glory of God are accomplished through healing; for others, sickness, suffering and even death.

The miraculous healing of the man who was a paralytic from birth gave undeniable proof of God’s power and anointing on Peter and John’s lives and ministry (Acts 3:6-7; 4:14-16).  Seeing a man whose paralysis had made him an object of pity or scorn for forty years suddenly walking, leaping and praising God filled the people “with wonder and amazement” (Acts 3:10).   They were dumbfounded, stupefied, astonished and “all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.” (3:11).

Consider a few observations:  The first, the powerful testimony of loving compassion.  Peter and John lacked “silver and gold”; however, they gave what they could and declared, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).  Secondly, notice the powerful testimony of sincere gratitude… “And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John…” (Acts 3:11).  The man who was healed “held” to Peter and John…he clung to them, held fast with all his might.  Peter and John might have slipped away unnoticed; however, the man would not release them from his grip!

Finally, the backdrop of loving compassion and sincere gratitude opened an opportunity for Peter and John to deflect attention from themselves and put the focus where it belonged…Jesus Christ (Acts 3:12).

Peter used the opportunity to glorify God and declare Jesus Christ Holy, Just, crucified and raised from the dead (Acts 3:13-15).  Enumerating their sins, Peter declared them guilty, calling them to faith and repentance in Jesus Christ (Acts 3:13, 19).

Friend, unlike Peter and John, God has not given us the power to heal the sick and afflicted and make them whole; however, He does give us means to make a difference in the lives we can touch.

“Silver and gold” is at the disposal of many and, if employed with wisdom and discernment, can make a great difference in those who are in need.  A healing touch, a word of compassion and encouragement, can open a sin-hardened heart to trusting Jesus Christ as Savior.  A testimony of gratitude and thanksgiving has the power to give glory to God for His mercy, grace and salvation.

Like the man healed in today’s study, when a sinner’s life has been touched by God’s power and genuinely transformed…He cannot be silent!

“He touched me, Oh He touched me;

And with His touch, what joy filled my soul.

Something, happened, and now I know,

He touched me, and made me whole.”  (by William J. Gaither)

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith