Isaiah 611-3, Acts 3:1-10
June 15, 2014
This is the passage I like to use right after Pentecost. As I said last week, Pentecost was the day the world changed. And right in the middle of all that change were the Apostles. This book is called “The Acts of the Apostles,” although I’ve always wondered if it should have been called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”
Well, whatever it’s called, these men jump right into this new ministry in a dramatic way. Again, God has a great “flair for the dramatic,” and these men are part of that drama. They take a central part in these great events, events that mark the beginning of this thing called the Church.
As chapter 3 begins, Peter and John are going into the Temple. Now, remember that the new believers did not separate themselves at first. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah foreseen by the prophets, and that his ministry was just another stage in Judaism. And naturally, they thought all the Jewish people should believe that! So they continued to worship in the Temple and in the synagogues, right along with all their Jewish brothers and sisters. It wasn’t until later in the book of Acts that they started meeting together just as followers of Jesus – people soon to be called “Christians.” And by the way, that name “Christians” was originally a derogatory name, given to them by their opponents. They called their movement, “The Way.” But eventually the name “Christian” stuck.
So, here in Acts 3 they heal this lame man at the Temple gate. And they do it publically, and they do it in the name of Jesus Christ. And here we find that great line, from which I took my title this morning. Peter says, “Silver and gold have I none, but that which I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” (There used to be a song with those words!) And notice, he says “Jesus Christ.” This incident would be controversial and a point of contention with the Jewish leadership for at least 3 chapters. And using that name alone was one of the biggest reasons.
I never thought about it before, but this is one of the first places in Acts where Jesus is referred to as “Jesus Christ.” Think about that. We say it without thinking, don’t we? We’re used to saying “Jesus Christ.” And we say it almost as if “Christ” is his last name. But it’s not. “Christ” is his title. He is “Jesus the Christ,” which means “the Anointed One.” In other words, “The one spoken of by the prophets as being the ‘Messiah.’” So saying “Jesus Christ” is akin to saying “Jesus the Messiah.”
If you look back to the end of Chapter 2, you’ll find Peter first giving Jesus that title. Remember these words from the end of his sermon. “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) That is a bold and definitive statement about who Jesus was. And the religious leadership, if they heard him say that, would have been very upset, to say the least! (And it’s likely that they did!)
Well, if they weren’t there to hear Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, they were certainly there to hear him say this right there at the Temple Gate! “Silver and Gold have I none, but that which I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ, walk!” Imagine the people watching! They would have been very “nervous” to hear Peter say that. “Did he really mean that?” “Did he say ‘Jesus is the Christ’?” “Keep that kind of talk quiet, Peter! If the priests hear you, you’ll be in a lot of trouble!”
Well, in dramatic fashion – again the kind of drama for which God has a great flair – Peter takes the man by the hand and raises him up. And not only does he stand, but on feet and ankles now made strong, he leaps up! And he follows Peter and John into the Temple “walking and leaping and praising God!” (That’s part of the song, too!)
As you can imagine, that drew a crowd. Luke says, people “ran together to see them.” And so Peter addressed them. And as he did, he put it to them again, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus was the Messiah, the one prophesied in their scriptures. And so the question about “What are the religious leaders going to do?” became very real! As I said, there would be a controversy about this incident for several chapters. And it wouldn’t be long before these disciples would be taken before those leaders – the same leaders who tried Jesus! And they would be charged (legally!) not to speak or do things in that name ever again. You see, it wasn’t that the disciples were continuing the ministry of Jesus that bothered them – a ministry they thought they had ended. It was using his name! And it was calling him “Christ!”
But of course, they did continue to use that name. We’ll talk about that in the weeks to come. And because of that, we have them to thank for the Church of Jesus the Christ today! For Peter and the others, and for all the believers after them, the fact that Jesus was the Christ was indeed valued “more than silver or Gold!”
And so I ask, how valuable is that to us? As we look at these stories in Acts, as we see these people discovering that indeed the Messiah had come – though not in the way they had expected, we will see how important that was for them. God had stepped into history! The world would never be the same again!
We live in a world that God has visited – personally! He loved his people – us – so much that he came here himself and showed us! And that’s what we’re talking about when we say we are “Christians.”
So think of this story today. Think about Peter saying to this man, “Silver and Gold have I none, but that which I have I give you…” And think of “Jesus the Christ.” How valuable is he to you? Is he more than silver or Gold?
Eternal God, help us to be better followers of your Son, “Jesus the Christ.” Help us to live by the example he gave. Help us to look to you for strength and guidance, like he did. And as we strive to continue his Church, his body here on earth, help us to show the world what great value he is to us. For this we pray in his name, Amen.