Peter, John and the Lame Man
Acts 3 and 4 describe the healing of a man who was lame from birth. The location is The Beautiful Gate, the entrance to Solomon’s Porch. See the Jerusalem Temple to understand where this was. There are two things that are important here. Firstly, Peter healed the man through the power of the Holy Spirit, simply by using the name of Jesus. Secondly, the Sadducees saw this act as a direct threat to their power and authority.
Peter and John were going to the temple for afternoon prayer at 3 PM (the ninth hour) and the man had been carried to the gate to beg for money.
“Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive gifts for the needy. Peter, fastening his eyes on him, with John, said, ‘Look at us.’ He listened to them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.’ He took him by the right hand, and raised him up. Immediately his feet and his ankle bones received strength. Leaping up, he stood, and began to walk. He entered with them into the temple, walking, leaping, and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God.”
People who had known this man all his life and knew he could not walk, were “filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” So Peter said, “You men of Israel, why do you marvel at this man? Why do you stare at us as though by our own power or godliness we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up, and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a man who was a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, to which we are witnesses. By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which is through Jesus has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
Once again, Peter is chastising the people for the crucifixion, but this time more in the spirit of forgiveness, “Now, brothers, I know that you did this in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But the things which God announced by the mouth of all his prophets, that the Messiah should suffer, he thus fulfilled [Is#52:13].”#52:13].”
Peter then gives them a way to make amends, and for the first time we see the public prediction that Jesus will come a second time, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, the Christ who was ordained for you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets.”
He then reminds them of what Abraham, Moses and Samuel had prophesied, “For Moses indeed said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him in all things whatever he says to you. It will be, that every soul that will not listen to that prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people.'”
“Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘In your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to you first, to bless you, in turning away everyone of you from your wickedness.”
Peter and John Arrested
But the Sadducees, who did not believe in life after death, had Peter and John arrested, “As they spoke to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came to them, being upset because they taught the people and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. They laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was now evening. But many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”
The next morning, Peter and John were brought before the Great Sanhedrin, the equivalent of a supreme court. The charge was, by what power or by what name had they done this? Luke says that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Jesus had told the apostles that the “Spirit of your Father” will guide them in what to say when challenged [Matt#10:16-20].
So Peter said, “Rulers of the people, and elders, if we are examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in him does this man stand here before you whole.”
And, “Jesus is ‘the stone which was regarded as worthless by you, the builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ And there is salvation in none other, for there is no other name under heaven, that is given among men by which we must be saved.”
There are many references to the cornerstone in the Old Testament, but the one that may have hurt the worst was, “Therefore says the Lord God: Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation; a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily [Is#28:16].”
Peter and John were ordered outside while the Sanhedrin considered their verdict. Both the boldness and insight of these uneducated men had amazed them, and they knew they had been with Jesus. There was no denying the man had been healed, but what could they do to prevent something like that happening again? The decision was to prohibit them from using the name in the future.
When called back in and told the verdict, they said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves, for we cannot but speak the things that we saw and heard.” Because the people were glorifying God for what had happened to a man who had not walked for forty years, the Sanhedrin decided they had no choice but to warn them again and let them go.
So Peter and John returned to their followers and told them what had been said. When they heard it, they broke out in spontaneous praise, song and prayer, “Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against his Anointed.’ [Ps#2:1-2]
For truly against your holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, by stretching out your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy Servant Jesus.”
“When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were gathered together. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”