Posts

What I Have I Give

In Acts 3, Luke illustrates the summary of church life that he just gave by pointing out one of the wonders that fulfills what we see in Acts 2:42-47. The heart of the story comes when Peter says to the lame man, “What I do have, I give to you.” So what did Jesus give the lame man through Peter and John? Four gifts: dignity, a deliverer, healing, and fellowship.

How did they give the lame man dignity? Look at verse 4: Peter and John gave this man dignity by making eye contact. Nobody enjoyed interacting with beggars in the first century any more than they do now. But Peter and John have spent time with Jesus, and so they respond not in a natural way, but in a supernaturally gracious way. They directed their gaze at him. “Look at us.” Peter says. We want to recognize you as a fellow human being, made in the image of God. Look at us.

The second aspect of giving what you have is seen in verse 6: Peter gave the lame man a deliverer, a Savior. “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth” he said. Who should you thank for these gifts, for the power by which you are healed? Jesus of Nazareth. Why is this important? Whenever we receive a gift, we are morally obligated to give thanks. This is what it means to be created beings – we sense and know that life and all good things come to us as blessings, as gifts, and our heart demands someone to thank. And Peter closes that gap for the lame man. “Thank Jesus of Nazareth. He is the one who has healed you.” The apostles point away from themselves, and give the lame man the gift of someone to thank.

The third gift is the most obvious one: healing. Peter and John, by the power of the Holy Spirit, on the authority of Jesus Christ, give the lame man an effectual command, a command that empowers, and as Peter took him by the hand and lifted him up, his feet and ankles were made strong, and a man who had never taken an unaided step in his life leapt to his feet, and began jumping for joy! When Jesus comes to bless a man, He blesses the whole man – soul, mind, heart, body, spirit – all of it. We should not limit the kind of blessings we seek to give any more than God limits His blessings.

The fourth and final gift, fellowship, is not as obvious as the physical healing, but it is the greatest gift that the apostles give. The lame man was outside the temple because his deformity meant that he was not allowed inside. Not even a son of Aaron himself could enter the temple if he was crippled, much less a member of another tribe. This man, though by birth a member of God’s people, had been cut off from the full experience of the worship of God for his entire life.

When Peter and John heal this man, in the name of Jesus Christ, the supreme gift that they give him is not simply the ability to walk, but the ability to worship. Once healed, this man is welcomed into the Church, which is to say, he is welcomed into a life of worship, community, and mission. Worship – as he praises God. Community – as he enters the temple along with God’s people. Mission – as his witness of joyful praise creates an opportunity for the gospel.

The lesson of this text for us, then, as we seek to give what we have for the people that God places in our path, is this: all Christians share in the life of the Triune God, so give that gift of life with God to others. Giving what you have means inviting others to share in fellowship with the God who heals us from our crippling sins.

Posted on Thursday, May 09, 2013 by CJ Bowen