Witnessing to the Hurting Acts 3:1-20

“Lost sinners came to Jesus not because He catered to them or compromised
His message, but because He cared for them.” (Warren Wiersbe) 
The following is the transcript from the Sept. 4, 2016 service at the Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa. 

We are not quite sure why Peter and John were going to the Temple that day. Scripture says they went there to pray, but the text simply says they “were going up to the temple at the TIME of prayer”.

The book of Acts doesn’t give us an exact timeline, but it seems to me that the Day of Pentecost (where 1000s became Christians because of the outpouring of power from God’s Spirit and because of a powerful sermon by Peter) may have only happened a day or so before. And if that’s true, there’s every possibility Peter was so excited about what happened on THAT day that he going back to the Temple to find more people to preach to. 

Now that may have been Peter’s plan. He may very well have been on his way to the Temple to do "church stuff." But then he gets interrupted by a cripple who’s looking for a handout. It might seem like the cripple is encroaching on Peter’s plans, because Peter wasn’t looking for a cripple to heal that day. He was on his way to “church.”

But here’s the thing, Peter stopped. He didn’t hurry past this man. He wasn’t bothered by his pleas for alms. He wasn’t repelled by this cripple.

In fact, I think Peter was attracted by him. He was intrigued by this man. Here was a man he could help. All he had to do was reach out and touch the man, and he could heal him.

Now let me tell you, as I’m preparing this sermon it occurred to me - how cool is this? How cool would it be to heal people with just a touch? To be able to heal a man who’s been a cripple since he was a baby. 

If I could do that, I’d go right down to the hospital and I’d empty that place out. I’d have a healing service EVERY DAY of the week and twice on Sundays. We wouldn’t have to have a prayer service for people to get healed. We could just into pile into the car and go do some home visitation.

But - I can’t do that. And I’m pretty sure you can’t do that either. But if you can, you come see me after service, because I’ve got a ministry for you. 

Now, by contrast… in the early church… the Apostles could do things like that. When Paul was explaining the proofs that he was an Apostle, he wrote:
“The things that mark an apostle— SIGNS, WONDERS AND MIRACLES - were done among you with great perseverance.” II Corinthians 12:12
The Apostles were empowered by God to do all kinds of wonders and miracles. These were the marks (or proofs) that they were who they said they were. Being Apostles, they could do all kinds of things… including reach out and touch the sick and bring immediate healing. 

So I might be excused if I think: “Gee, I can’t do anything like what Peter did. I mean, he was an apostle. He could heal people with just a touch. I can’t do that. So, there must not be anything for me to learn in Acts 3.” 

But if you or I thought that we’d be WRONG. 

Notice what Peter says here: 
"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you." Acts 3:6 What I have… I’ll give you. 
Now, here’s the deal – we are followers of Jesus Christ. And we are called to do Church, like Jesus did Church. There are Church-people who think that doing “Church” is what we do here in the building. If they sing some songs, pray some prayers, take some communion, and listen to a sermon they’ve done our “religious thing” for the week. They’ve “done church”. 

Now, Jesus did worship regularly at the synagogue, but Jesus did “Church” all through the week. And He did it by reaching out to people whom others would not touch. 

  • He ate with tax collectors and sinners.
  • He spent time reaching out to prostitutes and outcasts.
  • He put mud on the eyes of the blind
  • And He reached out and physically touched the bodies of lepers
Things no one else would do! 
You see, “Lost sinners came to Jesus not because He catered to them or compromised His message, but because He cared for them.” (Warren Wiersbe) 
Jesus did church, the way we should do Church. Church is when you show that you CARE for someone. When we do activities that reach out to the community and tell them we care about they and their families - that’s doing church. 
Now, when we gather here on Sunday mornings we worship.

  • We get in touch with God.
  • We recharge our batteries. 
  • We revive our spirits. 
  • We encourage one other and build each other up.

We do all that so that we can get fired up and go and out and REALLY “do church”. Because “doing church” is when we GET OUT and touch the hurting of this world. 
That’s why Peter turned to the beggar, and offered him what he could offer him. He didn’t have any money. But He Had Something BETTER to give him. 

Now, there’s a 2nd thing I want you to notice here. When Peter reached out to this crippled man he did NOT say: “Oh, you poor man… let ME heal you.”

That’s significant, because, most of us - when we do good things for others don’t mean to say it this way… but essentially we do anyway. We essentially say: “Let ME help you.” 
But now notice what PETER says: “
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Now, just in case you might get the impression that this was just some religious statement - kind of like “God bless you” or “Praise God” or “may God be with you” Peter restates this very idea with more intensity just a little later in the story. 

After Peter healed the cripple, the man got so excited that he started jumping and running around. And his excitement drew a fairly big crowd that is looking in astonishment at Peter and John. 

“When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, 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?’” Acts 3:12 
“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 given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” Acts 3:16 
Who’s getting the credit? (Jesus is!!!) Peter’s had a chance to get the credit, but he rebuked the gathering crowd for even thinking that. 

“OH NO! (he says) we didn’t do this by our own power or godliness. Get it straight. Understand this. THIS ISN’T ABOUT US… it’s about Jesus. 

Now, I know how pleasing it is to do a good deed and get the credit.

It feels good to have someone look at you in gratefulness. And you just know they’re thinking to themselves: “What, a nice person this is!”

You know they’re going to say something like

“Why, did I ever tell you what Jeff did for ME?”

Hey, it feels good. It’s nice to appreciated 

But it’s kind of short-sighted. Jesus said: 
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32 
You know what Jesus was saying there? Essentially, Jesus is saying to us, “If you make me look good, I’ll find a way of rewarding you.” 

But it’s about more than that. This isn’t about Jesus getting His ego stroked by us. It’s actually about us giving people what they truly need. 

You see, Peter could have given the beggar money. He could have gone back to the church and taken up a collection for him. I mean, this was a church of 3000 people; people who had proved themselves willing to sell their lands to help poor Christians in their midst. 

If Peter had asked for such a collection, he could have raised enough money to fix this guy up for life. But he had SOMETHING BETTER to give this cripple. He had the ability to touch this man and make him walk.

That’s why Peter wasn’t satisfied in just healing a cripple.

That’s why, when the crowd gathered, Peter gave credit to Jesus.
That’s why, Peter began with Jesus, and then commanded the crowd to,
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” Acts 3:19 
You see, while “doing church” involves meeting the needs of the hurting, we dare not be satisfied with stopping there. Our mandate is not only to heal the sick and help the suffering; it is to offer them the peace and hope that can only come through Jesus Christ. 
When we reach out to the hurting, we need to remember that we have one central message of hope. But if you don’t belong to Jesus today, you don’t have that hope.

Let’s pray:

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.