Sunday, December 11, 2016

Jumping for Jesus!

Acts 3:11-16
11 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. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. 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.

As Peter and John came up to the temple, a man lame from birth comes to ask them for money. Peter replies, "Silver and gold I do not have, but in the name of Jesus, get up and walk." And as he reaches out to Peter, he gets up and walks. It says he went to the temple, "jumping and praising God." If you hadn't walked since birth, you would be jumping too.

But God not only wanted to use this healing for the man's sake, but also the other people who were going up to the temple. Whenever one of the apostles heals someone, there are usually onlookers, or others who are drawn to the scene. The apostle Peter uses it as a teachable moment for his fellow Jews. Meanwhile the onlookers are staring and in disbelief about what just happened. Peter says something to the effect of, "Why is this so surprising to you? If you are thinking we are a the source of this healing, you are sadly mistaken. We are here to reveal God's power, and to make clear that is not from us mere mortals."

Then, he reminds them that this power comes from Jesus, the One their scriptures had prophesied about. The same God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob raised up Jesus to fulfill the promises made to the Jewish people. But unfortunately how own people rejected him and killed him. But God glorified him by raising him from the dead. And now Peter and the apostles were continuing the ministry of Jesus by doing the things that he did, and promised they would do. Remember Jesus had promised them, "You will do even greater things that I did, because I am going to the Father."

When we respond to God's call to reach out to others who need healing, we avail ourselves to his power. While not everyone we pray for gets healed, some are. Jesus still heals people today and uses healing as a way of leading people to him. We are often confronted with people, especially at this time of year, who have a financial need. And sometimes God may want us to help them in that need, but how often do we turn to our spiritual resources. How often do we like Peter say, "I don't have a lot of money on me, but I can pray for you in Jesus' name."

This Christmas season we will have a chance to give gifts to those we love. Let's keep our eyes open for the stranger in our midst, who might just need to know that God cares and heals today. Maybe a prayer and a hug might be how God meets people to let them know He still cares. At Christmastime we celebrate that God came among us and became one of us. When we reach out to others in Jesus' name, we show that God still comes to people today.

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