As followers of Jesus, we have the same everyday concerns that everyone else has. However, we have something many people don’t have: We have Jesus! So, what are we supposed to do with what we have? Acts 3 gives us an example of what to do.
One day, Peter and John had something to do. They went to the Temple to pray. As they approached one of the gates to the Temple, a lame beggar asked them for money. Luke tells us that Peter and John “looked straight at him.” Interestingly, Luke used this phrase. Our inclination might be to look away from a beggar, but Peter and John looked straight at him. And then, they gave him their time. In other words, they suspended their agenda to love their neighbor, just as Jesus did and taught.
What can we learn from this? Peter took inventory of what he and John had to give. He told the beggar that they had no silver or gold to give. What Peter had was more valuable than money; they had the name of Jesus to give. In the name of Jesus, Peter told the lame man to get up and walk, and that is what the man did! The people around them were amazed. They had seen this lame beggar for years. He was the real deal, not an accomplice to a fake healing.
Peter saw the crowd around them and assessed what their need was. He noticed that they were surprised at what they saw. And so, Peter gave them Jesus too! He began to preach. He pointed them to their God… the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Peter declared that their God glorified his servant Jesus. Peter declared that the crowd participated in killing God’s servant. Then, Peter proclaimed that God had raised his servant from the dead and that the name of Jesus had healed the beggar.
Peter’s preaching brought conviction upon the crowd. This is what preaching is supposed to do! But then, Peter gave everyone in the crowd an “out” for their offense against God. He told them to repent and turn to God so that their sins would be wiped out and that times of refreshing would come from the Lord. When we read into Acts 4, the crowd responded favorably to Peter’s preaching and wanted to know more. Luke tells us that about 5,000 people were saved by repenting and putting their faith in Jesus as God’s Messiah.
The examples of Peter and John inform us to keep our eyes open to the needs of people around us. Like them, we may have things to do, but God will interrupt our agendas to put people who need Jesus before us. We need to be careful not to get sucked into fixing their earthly needs at the expense of their need to know Jesus. This perspective about who we are to God and our purpose can transform what we do as followers of Jesus. It has the power to change and revitalize our church.
In conclusion, think about this: How would you pray Acts 4 to God? What do you need to repent of? What decisions must you make to become generous with your time, stuff, and Jesus?