Sunday, August 11, 2013

Peter and John Heal a Lame Man and Jesus’ Message Starts to Go Viral

Jesus had taught His disciples for 3 years. They went through a lot together. They watched Jesus do miracles, tell stories called parables, and do all kinds of cool stuff that changed their lives. He taught them to live lives that pleased God. After three years, they were with Him as He was praying in the garden. They were shocked when Judas, one of their own, led the authorities to where He was and let them arrest Him. They ran away. Peter denied he even knew Jesus. Judas was so sad when he realized the terrible thing he had done that he killed himself. Some of Jesus’ disciples watched Jesus die in one of the worst, most painful ways possible. John took Jesus’ mom in and took care of her from then on. Imagine watching your best friend, or your son, die on a cross! Then three days later, Jesus’ disciples got the surprise of their lives when some women discovered that His tomb was empty, and Jesus showed up, alive! Most of the disciples didn’t believe the reports of Him being alive at first, but they believed when they saw Him. Jesus continued to teach and do miracles (including appearing out of thin air to prove to Thomas that He was alive) for 40 days. Then He had them gather on a hillside and told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He also said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Then He began to rise into the sky. They watched in amazement as He went higher and higher and disappeared behind a cloud. As they were standing there gaping into the sky, two angels showed up and asked them, “What are you doing looking at the sky? Jesus will be coming back someday in the same way you saw Him go!”

After Jesus went into the sky, the disciples’ first order of business was to find a replacement for Judas. There were only eleven disciples left, and they needed twelve because of a prophecy that said one follower would leave and he would need to be replaced. They had some very specific requirements. They needed a man who had been with them the whole time, from John’s baptism to Jesus’ ascension into heaven. They came up with two men: Joseph (also called Barsabbas or Justus) and Matthias. After they prayed about it, Matthias joined their group.

Ten days later, the Jewish celebration of Pentecost arrived, which celebrated the time Moses gave the Law on Mt. Sinai. Just as Jesus had promised His disciples before He left, the Holy Spirit came on them in the form of tongues of fire. Pentecost was a big deal, and there were people from all over the known world in Jerusalem. They didn’t all speak Aramaic like the local Jews, so they were quite surprised to see Jesus’ disciples with flames over their heads and hear them speaking their own languages! God’s power helped them to speak in languages they didn’t even know! God gave Peter the words to speak, and many people listened to his witness of Jesus and believed that day. So the new Church was born. They loved each other and shared everything with each other. They lived in love and awe of God’s goodness, and with God’s help, the Church continued to grow, more every day.

One day, Peter and John went to the temple to pray. It was about 3 in the afternoon. As they got to the Beautiful Gate (that was its name), which led into the temple courts, a beggar sitting on the ground saw them and asked for money. He had been born unable to walk, and his friends had been carrying him there every day for many years so he could beg for money to stay alive. (Remember how they didn’t have wheelchairs at the time?) He was a pitiful sight, and he was most likely used to people ignoring his pleas for money. So it was a bit of a surprise to him when Peter and John stopped and looked straight at him, and Peter said to him, “Look at us!”

Ah, finally someone who will give me some money! Cool!

Then Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold to give you, but I’ve got something even better. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up! Walk!” Keep in mind this guy had never walked before. Ever.

He stood up!

Then he began to jump! He walked around. The people in the area recognized him as he walked and jumped around the temple courts, and they were shocked! Hadn’t they just seen him sitting there, as he had been for years? What in the world had happened?? He was praising God for healing him!

So Peter spoke up. He said, “Fellow Israelites, why are you so shocked? You look like you think we did this! The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has raised Jesus up. You betrayed Him to Pilate, and you murdered Him on the cross. You killed the one who created life, but God raised Him from the dead! We saw that with our own eyes. It is faith in Him that has healed this man.

“Now I know that you and your leaders didn’t know what you were doing when you treated Jesus like a common criminal. The prophets told us ahead of time that Jesus would suffer and die. Great news! You can repent of your sins, and they will be wiped clean! God used Samuel and all the prophets to tell us about these days. He even promised Abraham that He would use his descendants to bless the world. You just need to turn away from your sinful ways and follow Christ!

Needless to say, the Pharisees weren’t too happy about this. They arrested Peter and John and threw them in jail overnight! But that didn’t stop Jesus’ message from continuing to go viral. More and more people were continuing to believe.

The next day, the same Pharisees who had so recently put Jesus to death dragged Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, their court, and asked them, “By what power or name did you do this?”

Just as Jesus had promised, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. He said, “So let me get this straight. We’re in trouble for an act of kindness to a man in need. Right? OK, so here’s the rub. It was done in the name and power of Jesus. You executed Him, and God raised Him from the dead. You can see with your own eyes that Jesus’ power has healed this man! He’s standing! Jesus is the only one who can save us. God hasn’t given any other name in heaven or earth to save the world.”

The Pharisees were surprised that Peter and John talked that way when they hadn’t gone to school and learned public speaking, and they had clearly been with Jesus. They were upset, but they could see that the guy had been healed, and everyone was happy about it. It wouldn’t make them look very good if they punished the guys for an act of kindness! They were confused and weren’t quite sure what to do.

So after talking amongst themselves, they came up with a plan. They told Peter and John, “OK, we’ll let you go this time. But you better stop talking about Jesus.”

To which Peter said, “So what do you think? Should we listen to God or to you? You tell us. We’ve got to keep spreading what we’ve seen and heard. You want us to stop? Not gonna happen.”

The Sanhedrin threatened them some more, but they couldn’t punish them without looking bad, and the man had clearly been healed. People all over the place were praising God for what had happened! This man, who was over 40, had just started walking for the first time in his life!

So they let Peter and John go.

1 comment :