Are miraculous things still done through faith? Why does God not heal us from all of our infirmities, brokenness or disabilities? Why does life in the early Church, for people in the Bible, seem so different than our own? What does the Gospel actually do?
Today’s selection from Acts contains the first healing miracle in the whole story. It’s situated just after the giving of the Spirit of God at Pentecost to the whole community of faith who then shared all things in common, praying together, worshipping side by side and living in radical material solidarity (we’ll work backwards to that episode for Pentecost Sunday : May 15). The disciples go about life and faith in a regular way. They don’t distance themselves from their larger community, or abandon their old way of related to God and to other people. Rather they are emboldened, informed and re-formed by their experience of the Gospel good news of Jesus Christ to expand their communal spirit of unity, solidarity and faith-full-ness to include those marginalized and rejected by the larger society. They have heard the teaching of Jesus: “‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:31-46. They act accordingly.
The disciples aren’t just passively and privately pious. Their prayer turns them outwards to confront the brokenness of the world – and themselves. As Peter and John go to pray at the Temple they see this crippled from birth man. They speak to him. And then in the name of Jesus this man defined only by his disability is raised up. The Greek word used for “to raise up” [egeiro] is used throughout the second Testament to also express the notion of being raised up from the dead: resurrected. This man is not just healed or made better. He’s (re)made into a new creation!
The people are shocked. They expected to see a handout. not a resurrection. They immediately ask for clarification of the disciples (see 3:11 and beyond). The religious authorities are quickly opposed to what’s being said about the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17-18). The man who used to beg for a living, must now find a new way to live. The gospel impacts the world: making all things new (not always making all things easier.)
Questions for Going Deeper:
- What word, phrase or image in the text grabs your attention?
- How does that touch or interact with your live today?
- Or imagine yourself in the text. Who are you? The beggar? A disciple? Part of the crowd? An on-looker?
- How do you respond to the raising up of the unnamed man? How do you need God to raise you up from what cripples you in life?
- What invitation to act, speak, do or be do you hear through the Holy Spirit in the text?