by Johnny Wang
Key Verse: Acts 3:6
“Then Peter said, Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Throughout this conference we have listened to four messages that follow Peter’s encounters and progression alongside Jesus Christ, from the first moment where Jesus called him as a fisherman of people, to Jesus’ naming of Peter, Peter’s subsequent betrayal of Jesus three times, and then the reinstatement of Peter and his commitment to feed Jesus’ sheep to prove his love. We have studied the calling the of Jesus, the identity we have in him, the sacrifice he has made for all of us, and the charge Jesus invokes in our own lives.
This morning we learned more about Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter through Josh’s message. Jesus declares that he should “follow him!” with an exclamation point even. Following Jesus’ ascension to heaven, we see the Holy Spirit arriving at the day of Pentecost; the day when the disciples of Jesus were baptized with the Holy Spirit and embodied many gifts of the spirit, including tongues, healing, and prophesying. Leading into the passage now, in accordance to the calling Jesus had for him, Peter takes charge and initiative in leading the early church. Just as Patrick said in his message, Peter is the rock upon which the young Christian church is built following the events at Pentecost and throughout the book of Acts.
In this passage we will continue to follow Peter’s development and walk with Jesus through several miracles, transformations, and proclamations. We see a physical miracle in the healing of the lame man, followed by a message of truth, faith, and power spoken to the crowd in which we see the result of Jesus’ work in Peter’s life. At the center of all the things that go on, there is one central theme; the name of Jesus Christ. We often use the name of Jesus, perhaps more than we really realize. We end our prayers with“in the name of Jesus, I pray” or, something that I especially do, exclaim “Jesus Christ!” in surprise. But, how often do we comprehend all that his name truly encompasses? What faith in the name of Jesus truly means?
Acts 3 helps refine our answers to these questions. The passage defines the faith and belief in and through the power of his name; the quality and type of grace, forgiveness, healing, love, and deliverance that come from the Lord. We see that the name of Jesus is truly something we invoke and something that isn’t just said and put out into the stratosphere of the world without care, but something that is truly tangible and active with influence in all that we do. We see that it is not a possession to hide, not a light to hide under a bushel, but rather something that seeks to shine all around as something we live through and in. As such, this passage provides these distinctions about Jesus and his name through the miracle of salvation for a lame beggar and the living testimonies and proclamations of apostle Peter.
The Expectations of His Name:
In the beginning verses, we see Peter and John on their way to the temple at the time of prayer. For our purposes, this is significant as the presence of people at the court would be large at this time following the time of sacrifice. It is on their way to the temple gates called Beautiful that we come across a man who was lame for birth. This idea of being lame from birth is significant if we consider the state of the man’s mentality, particularly in the stigma and judgment that would have been directed toward him his entire life. He was even reliant on those around him to be desperate as he was carried to beg for money. This is key to remember for in verses 3-4, after the man asks Peter and John for money, Peter stops, looks directly at him, and says “Look at us!” It’s this eye contact that is rather striking. For one, he directs the man’s gaze to him just as Jesus did for those who he healed, but this action also incites a sense of expectation in the lame man.
V. 5 “So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.”
The man gave them his attention, expecting to receive something, which was certainly money or something with monetary value. But the personable touch of engagement that Peter had put forth had something different in store.
V. 6 “Then Peter said ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’”
Let’s take a second and look back at the eye contact from before. As we said, Peter’s method of engagement certainly heightened a sense of expectation to receive something from them. Whether it was money or something else, he was certainly made more receptive to receive what was offered through Peter’s words. In other words, it was quite necessary for him to expect something from him to receive anything from Jesus or God at all.
The same thing applies in our own lives. In order to receive anything from God, whether it be a seed of faith or great bundles of mercy, we have to expect something from him. It may not always be what we expected, such as in the case of the lame man, but there is certainly a value in the necessity of expectation. It’s the main idea behind prayer or coming to Jesus in any sort of way. To come with an expectation. Otherwise, we consistently live the same lives over and over without change as we lack in giving any actual real attention to Jesus as we conduct our lives. This idea of turning your eyes to LOOK at Jesus and God with expectation truly results in life changing moments of grace as I can personally attest to.
There are countless moments in the past few years where I’ve truly feel I emulated a similar spirit and mental state as the lame beggar must have been in. I’ve laid in bed awake for many long nights with no hope in my mind that my situation, whether it be due to stress, exhaustion, anxiety, or just pure defeat, would get better. I think there have been moments where I truly felt I had nothing to look forward to or to give in my life. I often looked back at my own actions with regret, shame, and anger, growing bitter with myself and those around me. My way of life appeared to be in conflict with my own happiness and wellbeing in my treatment of others and constant self-loathing. In particular, I felt moments of complacency, where my life grew stagnant in faith and overall depth of life. I began to grow weary in the awareness of my own weakness and areas of lacking. I stopped even desiring to dig myself out of these thoughts and moments, instead continuing to deepen the hole of perceived solitude that I lived, with the only thing I truly searched for were my own faults and weaknesses. Yet, there were always moments where I grew desperate for an improvement in my spirits and for growth as a person. It is these moments where my prayers were truly the most desperate. And it was those desperate prayers for something to hope for, prayers where I literally gave up any of my own will and would submit to any plan that God would bring, trusting that he would have a greater plan for me. And, these desperate prayers truly had the most resonance in my life. I still lost friends or felt lacking at times, but there was an ultimate comfort in laying it all in front of God and looking to him with expectation for something greater. I think that represents why many of those prayers had the most relief in my life. I can see myself looking through the beggar’s eyes of expectation for restoration and see the true power of those prayers loaded with expectation as with Peter’s healing of the beggar.
V. 6-8 “Silver or Gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles were made strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”
Again, the very minute the lame man gave Peter his attention, a miraculous thing happened. At the very mention of Jesus’ name, physical strength literally comes flowing through him in order to make him strong. Peter himself knew in this fact and helped him up, with confidence that the man was healed in the definite power of Jesus’ name. The man rose up and not only began to walk, but jumped and praised God, shouting as he discovered strength in his legs he had never ever known in all his years of life.
At the same time, we see Peter in his new life with Jesus in this miracle. Look closely at what he says. “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” He acknowledged the deficit he had in things of material value, but gives what he does have to offer in faith and hope. It’s not that anyone expected Peter to give silver or gold, but that he gave all that he did have; that is, the authority to speak the words of faith that the crippled man would be able to walk. Rather than the fear stricken to his heart at the thought of association to Jesus by a mere servant girl, Peter loudly proclaims that the name of Jesus is truly the only thing that is his, the only thing he has ownership of. He truly has taken the word of Jesus to heart and is working to not only follow him, but to care for his sheep here.
It is the care of love and hope that Jesus invested in Peter’s life, the faith he has inspired in him that he takes with him. He declares that what he received from Jesus is what he is able to give to others. In the same way, we can consider what we have received from God and are able to give to others. Freely you have received, freely you give the gifts we are blessed with. Perhaps it’s something as simple as offering a listening ear. Maybe it’s offering a word of encouragement, or praying for those who need it. Maybe it’s as simple of offering friendship and simply being there when you need to be.
Earlier this year, I had this opportunity to give what I had to another. By some chance of fortune, I found myself awake at night, watching Netflix or doing something or other, and found that one of my closest friends throughout high school reached out to me. They had dealt with trauma from the recent tragedy of losing someone close as well as continual emotional and physical abuse from their mother. Although I certainly get that I did not have the right or qualifications to provide advice, I truly felt my heart pouring out for this friend of mine. I gave all that I had to listen in support, to tell them I would continue to be there for them, and prayed for the intercession of Jesus Christ to provide refreshment and relief. I find that as I have gone through high school, the more I have grown to realize how, just as you and I are, that everyone is just so broke, and I say that with as little judgement as possible. However, that night was truly a turning point for me in the way I looked at Christ not only in my own life, but the great benefits he can provide in the life of those around me, whether it’s through me or any other method of his working. Those words of support, although all that I had to realistically offer, were offered truly in the name of a Jesus Christ; spoken in which to find hope in Jesus name over anything else. This is my personal testimony in the power of the name of Jesus Christ in the activity and productivity in my friend’s life, the birth of a new hope in their life.
V. 9-10 “When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
There is an instant and immediate twofold effect of his healing. Of note, the people around them, for it would seem rather busy and bustling at the time of prayer, saw that there was something miraculous occurring here. As Peter declared the healing in the name of Jesus, there could not be any shadow of a doubt that Jesus was at work in this moment. It is key to look at this invocation of Jesus name. Names on their own are significant. They denote meaning and value to all that we know. In this case, it represents all that Jesus Christ is. The name of Jesus Christ embodies the fullness of his power and presence. The reality of who he is and what he has done, and continues to do. It identifies the actual Messiah. Peter isn’t simply stating the name of Jesus to invoke a miracle, he doesn't offer him silver or gold that he does not have, but instead offers him the actual power and assets of the name of Jesus. The people around them saw and heard all of this as well and Peter explains all of what this means in the rest of the passage.
The Glory of His Name
v.11-12 “While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, 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?”
The people in the temple came running from all over at the commotion that the man praising God with such joy was making as he held onto Peter and John. Peter looked at them and saw their astonishment, their amazement as they regarded the man they recognized as the lame beggar at the temple gates called Beautiful. He saw the wonder and reverence that they began to look at Peter and John with. He saw that, despite the miracles Jesus performed himself in front of these very people, they were ready to explain this particular healing with a false hero’s worship of Peter. He recognizes how quickly this moment could pivot, and takes the time to address the people to explain what had happened.
He says “Fellow, Israelites, why does this surprise you?” with an emphasis on the word you. You - we - should know better. Our God is that kind of God, to act in sudden and miraculous ways. That though we may live with expectation, he continues, time after time, to work in such mysterious ways that we have no way to expect or prepare for.
V. 13-15 “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
Peter continues on with this personal conviction, referring to all those in attendance as you as he draws a contrast between the actions of God and the actions of humans. God, the God that you and those before you know, glorified his servant Jesus, but YOU handed him over to be killed. YOU betrayed him even though someone like Pilate who didn’t even know God had decided to let him go. YOU disowned the Messiah, a literal deity. YOU killed the author life, the one who opened up the heavens for us all.
It is almost as if Peter establishes the level of guilt that we all deserve to be laid upon us. For it is truly US that Peter directs these charges at. He lays these convictions of guilt to grip our hearts. It is upon the basis of fact that WE collectively have done this, we have killed the messiah Jesus.
Guilt is not a healthy thing. It is destructive, corrosive, and really damaging force in our lives. It’s a terrible and disruptive feeling that each and every one of us has experienced at one point or another. It dominates any other feeling and inflicts influence on whatever else we may feel. It leads to even more damaging thoughts and feelings and rears its ugly head in a couple different actions, whether it’s to run and hide like Adam and Eve after eating from the tree of knowledge, or to grow in bitterness, anger, and resentment which is perhaps one of the most damaging things of all, as Sam said that his dad, Dr. Ben Toh, always says “It gets better if you’re not bitter.” There’s truth in those words because ultimately guilt leads to escapism and denial, frustrations and destruction physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So why does Peter invoke these feelings of guilt? Again, just as he did in verses 13-15, he draws the distinction between humans and God. God’s answer, which is truly the only answer, to our guilt.
V. 16 “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 completely healed him as you can all see.”
Here we see the reaction that Jesus had in response to our guilt. The lame man is a part of these people. The very people who disowned Jesus before Pilate. The very people who yelled “Crucify him! Crucify him!” when Jesus was tried before Pilate and the same ones who mocked him as he hung from that rugged cross. He was one of us who lived under the weight of guilt from our own part in the killing of the savior god. He, just like us, was just as guilty as all of these people, but here he was standing whole and healthy. It was not anything he himself did or through any merit of his own but by the very faith in Jesus’ name. For just as Jesus said “Father forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing,” God responds to our guilt with overwhelming love and forgiveness. When he spoke the name of Jesus, the man believed in the power and authority and the work of that name, and immediately came strength and healing that he was lacking before. He stands before them as a demonstration of God’s answer to our human guilt.
V. 17-18 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.”
God’s answer to our guilt in condemning his one and only Son is a forgiveness and complete restoration for he knows we acted in ignorance just as Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” We act blindly, stumbling around, pretending to understand how the pieces of our life hold together but still God pours out boundless grace and straightens it all out at a singular cost; his son. Peter’s desire for them to hold onto this promise is reflected in his next words.
V. 19-20 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed to you-even Jesus.”
When we turn to God, and give him our attention, there is an immediate and complete dealing with our guilt and sin. God, through the name of Jesus, wipes out our sins. Peter, and God himself, did not incite any guilt in us without a way out, rather they acknowledged our guilt because the solution to all of our sin is in front of us; faith in the name of Jesus. Faith in the name of Jesus wipes out our sins. His name is his reality, his identity, and the power to cleanse us and make us whole.
This faith in Jesus, and the subsequent wiping of our guilt, comes with times of refreshment. Times of peace and restoration to upkeep our faith.Ultimately, it will result in the return of Jesus Christ himself.
These times of refreshment, for me in particular, represent something so valuable in the walk of faith. As I said, there were many extended periods of time where I drowned in my own awareness of self, but was utterly decrepit in my awareness of the activity that the Lord had within me. Yet, even as I went through my own damaging ways, I found periods of intense relief and restoration that truly represent my own growth in Jesus. At the root of my desperate prayers were an intense desire to look towards Jesus with an expectation of his intercession. A reliance and trust that the way he would lead me is the ultimate way. No matter the sins I committed against others, against myself, and against Christ, that I would acknowledge all these things and submit everything I had to him. I recognized my own level of lacking, and saw that truly the name of Jesus was the only way to ever find what I lacked. I saw that I could do nothing if it was not done in the name of Jesus. These periods of refreshment not only lifted my spirits, but elevated the levels of my life in so many different aspects that I find myself forever thankful for. Truly, none of my clearing of my own guilt and self persecution was ever possible without the true power and meaning behind the name of Jesus Christ.
I truly think it’s an understanding of what the name of Jesus truly means to me. That I look to him as the one who brought me out of my own weakness. The one who waited for me to be bold enough and courageous enough to say “Lord, I need you. I can’t do this on my own.” He is the one who not only expressed his love for me, but literally died, over and over and over for me all the while saying “here i am. Look at me! Follow me!”. Jesus is the one who has the authority as the one who CONQUERED death and all my sins and fears. The one whose power is validated through his unjust death and ultimate sacrifice for us all. He is the one who reached out his arm for me in my freshmen year, when I felt like I was sinking all the time, when I truly felt that I was all alone in this world. The one who held me close after I completely failed in my own pursuit of happiness through the gratification of other people. He was the one who continued to be patient with me and whose spirit stood with me in my sophomore year when I struggled to remain faithful to the tasks I was charged with in church, at home, and especially at school. Jesus was truly the one who died for me in my junior year as I turned so far in my view of him, and instead sought to run away from him in a denial of my own sins and guilt in my deep thoughts of anger and revenge to the ones who I felt hurt me. And still, he was the one who was resurrected, waiting all along for me as I returned with my tail between my legs, ready to submit everything I am, and everything I have to his name. And he is still right beside me, empowering me, strengthening me mentally and physically when I need it, humbling me at times, but ultimately displaying his great grace, mercy, and joy in my own life. Thus, when I claim his name with a full understanding of his death and resurrection, I can truly see the way he works in and through me.
We see the power of Jesus’ name in Peter’s life as well. A man who had once said “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” stands tall in this passage, whole and completely wiped of his sins, just as the lame man stood with newfound strength. Although he once expressed such cowardice before, his courage and boldness to declare the power of Jesus through the spirit of the living God with none of his former hesitance. His boldness in this regard truly mirrors the boldness of the sacrifice and revival that Jesus himself had. He leads the young Christian church, performing miracles and wonders in the name of Jesus, addressing the Israelites and Gentiles alike in order to declare the power of Jesus’ name. Peter travels the world, proclaiming the amazing word of life that Jesus had planted in his life. His work at this point lays out the groundwork and foundation to the state of faith to do this very day, with the word of God having taken root in the lives of countless souls. At the end of the day, just as he is confidently able to invoke the name of Jesus to heal a lame man, he confidently lives as the fruit of Jesus’ words over and over, remaining constant, consistent, and empowered in his faith.
The progression of Peter’s journey leaves us with many questions for our own personal process and walks of life. Will we turn away from whatever is distracting or prohibiting us from turning to God? What are we currently doing in our relationship with Jesus? Can we turn to Jesus and speak with intentionality to proclaim our faith in him? Will we wipe away our burdens of guilt through the power of Jesus’ name? I hope this conference truly resulted in a conviction to seek our own answers to these questions. I encourage you to take the time and reflect on these things and find your own personal journey to not only meet Jesus, but to progress in a relationship with him just as Peter did, to be completely restored and confidently and deliberately declare the glory of his name. That when we are able to truly take to heart the implications of his death upon the cross for us and live through and for his name in regards to that sacrifice, we can do anything. I urge you to take heart, for when we claim his name, through his death and resurrection, we can truly see that power of Jesus in and through us. It is beyond a doubt in my mind that each and every one of us can encounter Christ as Peter did, grow in a relationship with Jesus, and truly live new lives through the name of Jesus Christ, to do things in his name and declare the victory we find in his name.
V6 “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”