Following on from the last blog as to how people who reject Jesus come to see him as a blessing, Acts Chapter 3 explains WHY Jesus is a blessing.
Acts 3 had to wait to be written until after Jesus was resurrected, however, because it’s his resurrection that opened the windows wide to seeing why he’s such a blessing. And it all began with a healing.
Take into account that everything from this point on would be new and never experienced before. An entirely new world was opening up, which for people back then must have been hard to come to terms with. But reading Acts 3 maybe it’s just as hard for us, because everything we go through on entering this new world is new and different for us too. But it’s meant to be experienced personally so that we too can see for ourselves why Jesus is such a blessing.
And it goes back to that healing in verse 2, of “a man crippled from birth” who’d been carried to the same spot he’d occupied “every day” to “beg (for money) from those going into the temple courts.” But when he asked Peter and John for money he got the surprise of his life, because instead of money he was told, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk,” and “instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong” – enough for him to jump to his feet and leap around (verses 6-8).
But when people “were astonished” when they saw this familiar figure leaping around, Peter asked them, “Why does this surprise you?” – which seems like an odd question to ask when faced with such an amazing and obvious miracle. But it shouldn’t have been surprising, because this was proof, verse 18, that “God had fulfilled what he’d foretold through all the prophets” – the same prophets these Jews had heard from in the synagogues all their lives – about the great “times of refreshing” that would “come from the Lord,” verse 19.
And how would these great times of refreshing happen? Through God “sending the Christ (the promised Messiah), who has been appointed to you – even Jesus,” verse 20.
You mean, because of Jesus the times of refreshing had already begun? Begun, yes, because, as Peter immediately adds, “Jesus must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything as he promised long ago through his holy prophets,” verse 21. So this amazing healing of the cripple wasn’t the sign of the total restoration of all things yet, but it was the starting pistol setting off what “all the prophets from Samuel on” had foretold (verse 24). These Jews could now read what those prophets wrote and realize their words were already in operation in their own lifetimes, thanks to Jesus being resurrected.
And did that mean the marvellous prophecy God told Abraham, “Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed,” had also begun, then (verse 25)? Yes, the healing of the cripple being the proof of it. It was done in Jesus’ name, so Jesus was the bullet in the pistol that fired off that blessing too. So these Jews were now living in the time when they could see for themselves what that blessing to Abraham would look like.
And what it would look like is in the last verse in Acts 3: “When God raised up his servant” – when Jesus was resurrected, in other words – God’s purpose in sending him from this point on was “to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways,” starting with the Jews but extending to everyone else too.
So this was how the great blessing to Abraham and the restoration of all things would happen, by a great healing, pictured by the crippled beggar, from everything that evil has crippled us with. It is now Jesus’ job to scour out every bit of evil that has infected this world, and each of us personally.
And this is why Jesus is such a blessing, because our history and our own experience has proved beyond any shadow of doubt that we cannot scour out this evil ourselves. Until Jesus was resurrected we were lumped with evil, suffocated by it, unable to ever subdue it. But now we can experience in the most personal terms being healed of evil’s effects and influence by the resurrected Jesus.
The restoration of all things began, then, with the miraculous healing of a cripple, but it continues every day with the miraculous healing of us cripples too.