Read - Acts 3v1-10
Message - Scott Woodburn
A long time ago I found myself regularly calling with a man who was dying of cancer. I was two years into my training and had been assigned to a church for a few month's work experience. I would see this man every week and when I didn't see him someone else from the church would be by his bedside. We prayed constantly for his healing, we celebrated any good news and we grew fearful at the bad news. However as time went on the bad news kept coming and eventually it was clear that the man wasn't going to be healed.
I'm sure most of us have prayed passionately and yet didn't seem to get an answer. It is frustrating. It angers us. We wonder where God is. In such moments I would encourage you to look to what is permanent.
Peter and John came across a lame beggar who asked them for some financial relief (v3). Amazingly the Apostles would give him something much greater than silver or gold (v6) and then something greater still. Firstly they restored this man physically. Peter commanded him in the name of Jesus to rise up and walk (v6b). As the Gospel moved beyond Israel's borders it would be carried by the Apostles. These were men who had seen the raised Christ, who had been sent out by Christ and were able to perform signs and wonders to authenticate their message. At a command Peter was able to see this man's strength restored.
Yet there was greater to come, for as strength returned to his feet and ankles he began praising God (v8). His transformation was so amazing that the people around him were filled with wonder and amazement (v10). This man was walking and leaping but more than that he was praising. We are not Apostles and do not have the ability to heal the sick or to command strength to return to withered limbs but again we set our gaze on the permanent.
We do not know the rest of this man's story but we can be certain that his healing was for a time and a day would come for him to die. Perhaps on his deathbed he would tell his loved ones about the day he met Peter and John and how they spoke to him and how suddenly his body was like new. Perhaps on his deathbed he sang Psalms praising God and urged his friends to praise God too. Then at some stage this man closed his eyes for the last time and died. His physical healing was for a few years in this life, his spiritual healing was eternal.
We do not have enough silver or gold to fix the world. We cannot heal the sick at a word or at a touch. But what we do have is the Gospel. As we proclaim it and as the Spirit works, those who were spiritually dead are raised to spiritual life. It is not a temporary fix but an eternal one. It is truly miraculous when an enemy of Christ becomes His friend. The one who accepts Christ will still one day breathe their last but they will open their eyes in glory and behold the beauty of Jesus.
The man who I visited all those years ago died and was buried on a roasting hot July day that I can still remember like yesterday. My boss stood at the funeral and declared "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of His saints." He was right. Our prayers for the man's temporary healing had gone unanswered but when death came he faced it with his faith in Christ. Today the temporary has gone and he is with Christ which is permanent and better by far.
Q70 What is the seventh commandment? The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.