Healing In The Name Of JesusSermon passage: (Acts 4:8-12) Spoken on: March 24, 2013
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Pastor Wilson Tan For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Acts
Sermon on Acts 4:8-12 Healing in the Name of Jesus
The story about the healing of the lame man actually begins in Acts 3:1. Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray, at the ninth hour, which is about 3pm in the afternoon. There at the gate of the temple, they met a man who was lame from birth. The name of the gate was called the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2, 10). The lame man was actually asking for alms, not healing, but Peter said to him, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6) There, the man at the Beautiful Gate was healed. For the first time in more than 40 years (Acts 4:22), he walked on his own, without assistance from anyone. It was indeed beautiful.
Peter did not give the man what he wanted; instead, he gave him what he needed. He was healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. When the people saw him walking into the temple for the first time on his own, he was leaping and praising God. The crowd was filled with wonder and amazement. Peter took the opportunity and preached a message of repentance to the people of Israel (Acts 3:19)! Peter reminded them of God’s covenant with their fathers and forefathers and pronounced blessing to their families through their offspring. It was a wonderful day for many people that day! Not only had they witnessed a miracle, they also received blessing from God. But not everyone was pleased with what the disciples did.
And as Peter and John were speaking to the crowd, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them and arrested them and put them into custody until the next day. They were greatly annoyed by their teaching about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Unlike the Pharisees and the early Christians, the Sadducees in this group of Jewish leadership rejected the belief in the resurrection of the dead. They held Peter and John for a night since it was already evening (Acts 4:3).
The next day, all the high priests, rulers, elders and scribes of the Jewish temple gathered in Jerusalem and begin to question Peter and John. This group of religious men was the top Jewish leadership at that time. This trial marks the early disciples’ first confrontation with the Jewish leadership since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This trial also marks the first of many persecutions faced by the early disciples since the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). It tells us in great detail the work of the Holy Spirit through the early disciples. It also tells us about the content of the disciples’ message and their response to the accusations from the Jewish leadership.
In our story, the Jewish leadership was concerned about the origin of their healing powers. They did not deny the miracle of healing, but they questioned where their power and authority were from. They asked, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7) By “what name” is simply another way of asking by whose authority did you get your power from. They did not question its authenticity, but they question its authority.
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, begins his response by first addressing them politely as rulers of the people and elders. It was intentional for Luke to add this little side note about Peter being filled with the Holy Spirit. He wants to remind the readers that after the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were doing things they usually would not have done. This does not mean that before the Day of Pentecost, the disciples did not have the Holy Spirit in them, but that the filling of the Holy Spirit gave them added courage and wisdom to answer their accusers. Peter does not answer the rulers’ question in a straightforward manner. Peter begins with a little reprimand reminder. He did not speak like a fisherman that day, but more like an experienced lawyer and prophet! Let’s take a look again at vv. 9-10.
9 if we are being examined today
concerning a good deed done to a crippled man,
by what means this man has been healed,
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel
that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—
by him this man is standing before you well.
Peter’s response appears like a rhetorical question, but beneath the question is actually an attack on the rulers’ hard-heartedness. Peter knows how hardened were their hearts. Their accusation was to the point and Peter’s defense was just as poignant. Allow me to rephrase: “You asked me by what means was this man healed, let me tell you, that it is Jesus, whom you have rejected and crucified, but God had raised from the dead. It is because of Jesus that this man is healed and standing before you today.” Jesus is the cornerstone whom the builders have rejected (Acts 4:11, Ps. 118:22)!
At this point, I would like to bring attention to one special word used in v. 10: “This man is standing before you well.” The original Greek word for “well” is hygies, which is the origin word for “hygiene” today. It is an emphatic word, a word of special emphasis. It actually means “whole” or “healthy”. Literally, the crippled man was made whole again. This special word was used in contrast to the man’s crippled-ness. In his former state, he was literally “weak.” As he could not walk, he was unable to work and had to beg at the gate for his lively-hood. But now, he is healed. He is made “whole” again. He is in good health. He is no longer weak. He no longer needs to beg at the gate again. He is now “living well”.
When we look at this passage, who do we identify with? The crippled man? Peter and John? Or the rulers and Sadducees? Most of us can easily identify with being the crippled man. Each of us has a weakness and by the grace of God, we are made “whole” again. There is a message of comfort to those who are “crippled” in our lives. Some thing maybe crippling us in our walk with God. Some of us may still be begging at the gate of the temple, living a very aimless life without God. We pray for what we want rather than what we need. We exchange long-term happiness for short-term pleasure. We live for the moment, and not for eternity.
Some of us may even identify with Peter and John. A good deed goes condemned. How many of us serving in church have experienced something like this? Our good deeds or our motives were questioned. Sometimes, our actions and motives were misunderstood. Our favorite question is “Who gave you permission to do this?” Who authorized this? When questioned, we may ask ourselves, “Isn’t God on my side? If I am doing the right thing, why am I being questioned? Why am I being “crucified like Christ”? OK, maybe I am dramatizing a little. But the truth is, very often, what we see as good may not be seen as good in others’ mind. Just like the healing of the crippled man. A good deed goes condemned.
I confess that sometimes in ministry, I felt like Peter and John. I desire vindication. I desire justice. Vindication and justice are all good things. But I forget that it is God who vindicates, not us. The difference between Peter and me is that in this story, we see Peter always pointing to Christ in all that he does. Never once did he claim credit for himself. Never once do we see Peter saying that it was by his power that healed the man. Rather, it was always in the name of Jesus. Unfortunately, this is something I have not done enough of: pointing to Christ. We as a church do not do enough of this too. We fight over territories. We fight over human resources. We like to question each other’s motives. We claim credit for ourselves. When we place ourselves above Christ, we miss the bigger picture. In times like this, just like the Jewish leaders, we miss witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
A long time ago, in a church “far away”, there was once a newly married Christian couple who was so full joy for the young people in their church. The husband was a Sunday School teacher of a group of teenagers. One Sunday morning, he saw that his class was very restless and bored and so in the heat of the moment, decided to bring his class of teenagers out from church. He packed all of them in his mini van and brought them to a nearby park for an outdoor teaching session instead. The teenagers were so excited and happy. It was probably their most interesting lesson in their whole Sunday School life! A lesson, which I am sure, they will never forget. The young Sunday School teacher made it a point to bring his class back within the appointed time of the usual Sunday School session. Needless to say, he got into so much trouble from the church leadership. He was made to publicly apologize for his irresponsible actions, which he did so, very sincerely. He acknowledged his mistake and promised never to do such a reckless thing again. It was also a lesson that he will never forget.
Some of you may side with him and get angry with the church leadership for being so narrow-minded. Some of you may side with the church leadership, and agree that what he did was irresponsible. There are merits from both sides of the story and it is not my intention for you to choose sides. But the point I want to raise is this. Our God is working in our lives even when we do not see it. We may think that we are doing God’s work but we are not. And sometimes, we may think that we are not doing God’s work, but we are. There is no need to condemn the young man, or the church leadership, for they were all doing what they think is best for the church and for the people. So were the rulers and Sadducees. They were also doing their job of keeping their faith real. It is their job to denounce heretical teachings and false teachers. It is their job to question the healing of the crippled man.
But the problem is, after questioning and verifying the facts before them, they continued in their disbelief. They were paralyzed by their own power. They were blinded by their own unbelief. Instead of rejoicing with the crippled man or with Peter, they end up condemning the good deed. We are no different. We are given authority to govern the church and its people. But sometimes, we abuse our power and abuse the trust in people whom we serve. With the recent revelations of the sex scandals in the Catholic Church and the upcoming trial of fund misappropriation in a mega church, are we not crippled in some ways too?
Are we so different? I am not suggesting that we close a blind eye to injustice. We need to call a spade, a spade. When we see something that is wrong, we need to voice it out. A sin is a sin even if you call it by any other name. But here is the good news. There is healing in the name of Jesus. There will be healing in the Catholic Church. There will be healing in the mega-church. There will be healing in India. Just as there was healing in Auschwitz. There was healing in Uganda. There is healing in the name of Jesus. I believe that this is the key message in our story today.
Jesus is the main point of the story. Jesus must also be the main point in our story. No matter what happens, Jesus is the only name that brings salvation. We are all crippled and all of us need Jesus.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
What can we bring home today, other than the reminder that there is true healing in the name of Jesus? We don’t proclaim enough of this in our church. Sometimes, we are discouraged when we hear of conflicts and confrontations in church. We question, “How could a church be so full of strife and unhappiness”? Isn’t the church supposed to be a perfect place, with perfect people? No, I believe the church is a place for sick people, for imperfect people. The church is a place for the crippled. The church is where healing takes place because Christ is the church.
What does our church look like to you? (credit to Wan Ling) Does it look like a church in the traditional sense? A solemn place of worship. A sacred place. Or does it look like a concert hall like some mega churches? Or does it look like a hospital for the sick? Or maybe, a school or seminary? Or does it look like a social club? A community center? A day-care center for the elderly? Or a kindergarten for children? Or, maybe it is all of the above?
I always believe that the church is full of crippled people. My favorite image of a church is the church as a hospital. Recently, I had spent quite some time at a hospital. Not because I was admitted but I was visiting several people, friends and relatives, who needed some treatment at the hospital. There is this one hospital that did not look like a hospital at all. It was even nicknamed “hospit-el”, for it resembles a hotel more than a hospital. The décor was beautiful, the nurses and doctors were all beautiful and handsome and super friendly. The whole point of this new look is for the patient to not feel like a patient. Regardless of the décor, the true purpose of the hospital must be a place for healing.
If the church is a hospital, then there must be healing in our church. Not necessarily in the form of healing sessions in charismatic churches, but simply healing in the name of Jesus. Healing between parents and children. Healing between co-workers. Healing between family and friends. Healing between enemies. Healing as in true forgiveness. All of us have been hurt in some ways or another. Let us stop bickering among ourselves. Let us not talk behind a person’s back. Let us forgive each other and ask for healing in the name of Jesus. Let us pray for our church to be a place of healing. In the name of Jesus, heal our church. Amen.
Darrell L. Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts (Baker Academic, 2007)
Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary: Acts (Zondervan, 1998)
David G. Peterson, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Acts of the Apostles (Eerdmans, 2008)