A Lame Man Healed - Part 1 of 5
by John Lowe
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
A Lame Man Healed (Acts 3.1-11)
Note: since this is a long sermon, I suggest it be given in two parts; part 1 (vs. 1-5) on Sunday morning, and part 2 (vs. 6-11) on Sunday evening.
Acts 3.1-3.11 (KJV)
1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.
The apostles and the first believers attended the temple worship at the hours of prayer. Peter and John seem to have been led by the Holy Spirit, to perform a miracle on a man who was over forty years old and had been a cripple from his birth. Peter, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, told him to rise up and walk. Accordingly, if we would attempt the healing of men's souls, we must go forth in the name and power of Jesus Christ, calling on helpless sinners to arise and walk in the way of holiness, by faith in Him. How precious is the thought to our souls that regardless of all the crippled faculties of our fallen nature, the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth can make us whole! Can you imagine the holy joy and excitement we shall feel when we walk the holy courts of Heaven; when God the Spirit causes us to enter there by His strength!
The incident begins when Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer,
Peter and John must have had a close friendship, which probably began when they worked side-by-side in the fishing-boats as they pursued their trade as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Luke tells us that the sons of Zebedee (James and John) were "partners with Simon," (Later Jesus changed his name to Peter.) and helped him to land a miraculous catch of fishes. The account of this miracle is found in Luke 5—“Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:4-10). We find the two sons of Zebedee associated with Peter in the inner circle of the Lord's apostles, at the Transfiguration, at the raising of Jairus' daughter, and at the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. But the still closer friendship of Peter and John appears first when they go together to the palace of Caiaphas on the night of the Lord’s betrayal. This is what John wrote about that experience in John 18:15: “And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple (John): that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.” (John 18:15). And then the two apostles made the memorable visit to the holy sepulcher on the morning of the Resurrection, which is described in John 20:2-4 —“Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved (John), and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher.” It would seem natural then, in the early chapters of the Acts, that we find Peter and John constantly acting together at the very forefront of the Christian movement.
That is the background to the wonderful miracle that is our message for this morning,
Peter and John are together again and on the way to the temple, not to observe the daily sacrifice, which for believers was abolished by the sacrifice of Christ, but to participate in the daily prayer, which was still in force, and they might have had in mind preaching Christ to the crowd assembled there. In Luke 24:53, it is said that the apostles were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. From Acts 2:46, it is clear that all the disciples were accustomed to go daily to the temple for a time of prayer—There we are told, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple…” Whether they joined in the sacrifices of the temple-service is not said; but that is not out of the question. This was the place and the manner in which they and their fathers had worshiped. It took some time for them to come to the conclusion that they should leave the temple, and it was natural for them to join their countrymen to worship the God of their fathers. In the previous chapter, and Acts 2:43, we are told in general that many wonders and signs were done by the hands of the apostles. From the many miracles which were performed, Luke selects one of which he gives a fuller account, and at the same time it gives him an occasion to record another of the addresses of Peter to the Jews.
The verse says, “Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer. “The hour of prayer” is called "the hour of incense," in Luke 1:10, which is the time of the evening sacrifice, when the people stood outside in the courtyard of the Temple in prayer, and the priests who were inside offered the sacrifice and burnt the incense. It seems very remarkable that at this early age of the Church's existence Christians did not consider themselves separated from their Jewish brethren, or from the Old Testament institutions. Christianity was Judaism perfected; the gospel was the full blossoming of the Law. The first Christian Jews, therefore, did not conceive of themselves as leaving the religion of their fathers, but instead they hoped that their whole nation would soon acknowledge Jesus to be the Christ. Christian institutions, therefore— the prayers, the breaking of bread, the prophesying and speaking with tongues, and the apostolic teachings were added to the temple service, and were not opposed to it; and the church took the place of the synagogue, but not of the temple.
The words “being the ninth hour,” have been placed at the end of the verse.
The ninth hour would be three o'clock in the afternoon. This was one of their “hours of prayer;” it was customary with the Jews to pray three times a day. We are told this about Daniel’s prayer time: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10). The psalmist, in Psalm 55:17, says that the three times were evening, morning, and at noon; morning prayer was at the third hour (Acts 2:15) or nine o'clock in the morning; noon prayer was at the sixth hour (Acts 10:9) or twelve o'clock, at noon; and evening prayer was at the ninth hour, as it is here, or three o'clock in the afternoon. These were not times established by God, but by the Jews; since the Law does not specify any number of prayers, and there is no repetition of prayer of one kind or another commanded in the Law, and there is no "fixed time" for prayer mentioned in the Law.''
The rabbis believed that Abraham instituted the time of Morning Prayer; Isaac, the noon prayer; and Jacob, the evening prayer time: but to support their claims they quote several scriptures, which have little to do with the subject of prayer. Some other rabbis made a more natural division for prayer time. He said men should pray:
1. When the sun rises.
2. When the sun has gained the meridian (zenith, or highpoint).
3. When the sun has set, or passed just under the horizon.
At each of these three times they required men to offer prayer to God; and I would be glad to know that every Christian in the universe observed the same times: it is the most natural division of the day; and anyone who conscientiously observes these three stated times of prayer will for certain grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.