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Peter and John heal a Cripple at the Gate of the Temple. Peter takes Occasion therefrom to preach to the People.
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
We have here the entrance into the history of a miracle wrought by two of the Apostles, Peter and John , on a cripple, in the name and by the authority of their Divine Master the Lord Jesus Christ. It appears to me, that beside the fact of the thing itself, it hath a sweet spiritual allusion to the crippled state of our nature: and as such, upon both occasions, it may well merit our close attention.
We are told, that those two dear brethren, Peter and John , were going up together at the ninth hour to the temple; that is three of the clock in the afternoon, the hour of prayer: meaning the time of the evening sacrifice. This was the memorable hour of Christ's death on the cross; and to which all the evening sacrifices of the temple, from the first moment of their appointment to the death of Jesus, had respect. David's hour, Psalms 55:17 . Daniel's sweet hour, Daniel 9:21 . See also Exodus 29:38-39 .
And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
This certain poor man, it appears, from Acts 4:22 . was now at this time forty years old: and as he never had walked, having been lame from his birth, had most probably been often, if not daily, laid at this gate of the temple, by way of exciting the compassion of the feeling, to soften his indigence by their alms. And what can more strikingly represent the crippled state of our fallen helpless nature? Every son and daughter of Adam is born so, and hath been lame from the womb. We may be laid down as this poor man was, at the gate of the temple or in the way of ordinances, but never until an act of grace be passed upon us, shall we truly walk in the temple of the Lord. Forty years long the Lord was grieved with Israel, and the Lord said, they have not known my ways. And this cripple at the beautiful gate might have lain there unhealed, had not Peter and John passed by to give his feet and ankle bones strength, in the name of the Lord. And spiritually considered, as well as in body, there is no healing for the soul, but in Jesus.
Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. (4) And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
The poor man had no consciousness of being healed of his lameness, and only asked the aim for the supply of the body. The crippled sinner, in like manner, until made sensible by grace of the blessedness of healing, hath no apprehension of any cure to the lameness of the soul. Both, in those instances, are the same.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. (6) Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. (7) And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. (8) And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
It must have been a delightful sight, to have seen these poor Apostles, acting in the faith of the Lord, and the power of the Holy Ghost, in this wonderful manner. And no less astonishing must have been the expression of countenance of the cripple, when, instead of money, he found strength in his bones; and he who had never walked, entering with his benefactors into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God! But, Reader! think, if it were possible to be the object of our sight, how much greater would it be, to behold the Lord Jesus himself passing by, and bidding the crippled faculties of our souls to arise and walk: and to feel Jesus taking his redeemed by the hand, and lifting them up! Oh! the inexpressible joy, when at the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and in the power of his strength, poor crippled sinners, yea, dead sinners, and from their mother's womb dead in trespasses and sins, are called into spiritual life; and walk, and leap, and enter with Jesus into the temple, and the galleries of his grace, walking, and leaping, and praising God! And who shall say the numbers, or who shall write down the greatness, of the cure; in the daily cases where Jesus manifests the riches of his grace, in restoring life and health to his people! Exodus 15:6 ; Isaiah 61:1-3 , with Luke 4:18 , etc.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God: (10) And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
There is somewhat particularly affecting, in what is said, of the healed cripple holding fast the garments of his benefactors: clinging to them, as we may suppose, not only to manifest his attachment to their persons, for the mercy he had received, through their hands; but also to hear more of Him, by whose sovereign and Almighty name he had found a cure! But, Reader! with what holy ardor doth a soul, truly saved in Christ, follow Jesus in the regeneration, and cleave to Him, because he then knows him to be his life. He feels, and is conscious, of his daily need of Jesus; he is convinced that every act of faith, and love, can only be kept alive, by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. See Deuteronomy 10:20 ; Psalms 89:16 ; Hosea 14:8 ; Psalms 71:15-16 ; Acts 11:23 .
Perhaps the Reader will think with me, what a wonderful effect also, was wrought upon the minds of the whole neighbourhood who knew this cripple from his birth, or at least for a long time; when they saw him, after forty years total infirmity, now leaping and walking. What views must they have had of the poor Apostles! And what greater apprehensions of the person and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ! But, Reader! cannot you and I, bear testimony to the word of the Lord's grace, in a much greater demonstration of the sovereign power of Jesus; in a spiritual recovery, to the crippled, yea, the dead faculties of our souls? Yes! if so be the Lord himself hath opened the eyes of our understanding, or our deaf ears to discipline: hath given strength to the feet and ankle-bones of our spirits, in enabling us to run the way of his commandments, having set our souls at liberty! Here is a subject of still greater astonishment, when grace hath passed upon the heart, and that gracious prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus, is fulfilled: Behold, your God will come and save you! then the eyes of the blind shall he opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped: the lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing, Isaiah 35:1-6 .
And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. (12) And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? (13) The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. (14) But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; (15) And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. (16) And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Reader! I charge it upon your heart, while I desire to feel the full impression of it upon my own, that in attending to this very precious Sermon of Peter's, we do not overlook the ministry in it, of God the Holy Ghost. It is delightful to behold the animation of the servant in the Lord's cause: but never to forget from whence the whole energy is derived, in the master. And I pray the Reader to call to mind, the particular area of the times, when this miracle, and preaching took place. The Son of God, having finished redemption-work, had just before returned to heaven. And God the Holy Ghost was now come down, in a more open manifestation of himself, to carry on the glorious cause. His special act, therefore, as the Original and Almighty Architect of the Church, was to build up the tabernacle of David which was fallen down, and close up the breaches thereof, Amos 9:11 . Hence, the whole ministers to his glory. And it is blessed, yea, very blessed, at every verse we pass over, in this wonderful account, to watch, and mark, the footsteps of the Holy Ghost; and like the Prophet on the watch tower, to be on the lookout, for the Lord's manifestations, in what we read, of his grace in our hearts, Habakkuk 2:1-2 .
Let the Reader not fail to observe, with what energy and power, under the influence of God the Spirit, Peter opened his animated discourse. He begins with humbly declining all pretensions to himself, and his partner John , of any merit or worth, from the deed Wrought in the cripple; and strives to call off the attention of the people, in the astonishment which they had expressed, from them, as instruments; in order to fix their views on Jesus, as the Author, And having thus called forth their notice, he begins with a text from their own Scriptures, which they were supposed all of them to be well acquainted with, in relation to the Covenant. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob: the God (said he) of our fathers. Nothing could have been more happily chosen, by way of arresting their attention. And no higher proof could be needed in testimony, that the Lord the Spirit both directed the Apostle's mind, to the choice of this scripture; and gave to the Apostle's mouth, ability to unfold, and explain it to the people. While the Apostle was speaking to them of Abraham's God, and the God of their fathers; he could be setting forth no strange gods, or new gods, as Moses charged some of old with, newly come up, which neither they, nor their fathers knew, Abraham's God, in his threefold character of Persons, was well known, and well proclaimed in the scriptures of eternal truth. Here therefore Peter takes his stand, and demands their attention.
Having thus paved the way by a foundation for discourse, which as the Israel of God they could not but acknowledge, it was the very principles of their religion to stand upon: Peter next advanced to the one great subject of all his, and all the Apostles' preaching; namely, the Lord Jesus Christ in his Person, Godhead, Offices, Characters, and Relations: and to set him forth as God had set him forth, in the word of his grace. The God of our fathers, (said he,) Abraham's God in Covenant, hath glorified his Son Jesus. Reader! pause over the blessed words, for they are most blessed. The whole design of Jehovah, from beginning to end, and from one eternity to another, through all the time-state of the Church, is to glorify his Son Jesus. The Bible is to this one end, and is full to this, and this only purpose. Every Promise centers but in Him; yea, Jesus himself is but as one promise, for every other is comprehended, and folded up in this One, 2 Corinthians 1:20 . Every Precept, both under the law, and the Gospel, tends but to exalt Christ Jesus, For by him the whole have been fulfilled, and he is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth, Romans 10:4 . And as they relate to his people in him, the whole is comprehended in looking to Christ, and believing on him, John 6:28-29 . Every Ordinance is intended to minister but to him: indeed Christ himself is the One great Ordinance of Jehovah; for there is salvation in no other, neither is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, Acts 4:12 . Reader! what saith the experience of your heart to these things? You see, that the great will and purpose of Jehovah, is, to glorify his Son Jesus. Is this your will and purpose also? Do you make him, what Jehovah hath made him, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: the Author and Finisher of faith? Oh! how sweet is it, when a poor sinner discovers, that He, who is Jehovah's salvation to the ends of the earth, is his salvation also. He is the praise of all his saints; the people near to him! Revelation 1:11; Revelation 1:11 ; Hebrews 12:2 ; Isaiah 49:6 ; Psalms 148:14
It is well worthy the observation of the Reader, with what firmness the Apostle chargeth the men of Israel, with the crucifixion of Jesus. He hesitateth not to bring it home to their consciences. And what I admire in this short, but sweet sermon of Peter's, is, that while he bears testimony to the human nature of Christ, in the proof arising from his death; he most decidedly proves his (divine nature in the strong terms by which he calls them: the Holy One, and the Prince (or Giver) of life. And in relation to the miracle wrought, he refers the whole into his Almighty name. And his name (saith Peter) through faith in his name hath made this man strong whom ye see and know. Reader! do not overlook in this place that faith, upon all occasions, hath for its whole object and dependence, the Person of Christ. I beg the Reader to consult a few of the many scriptures which speak of Christ, as the Holy One, and the Holy One of Israel: for they can refer to no other, Deuteronomy 33:8 ; Psalms 89:19; Psalms 89:19 ; Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 49:7 ; Daniel 4:13 ; Hebrews 1:12 ; Mark 2:24 .
And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. (18) But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (20) And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (21) Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. (22) For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. (23) And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. (24) Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. (25) Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. (26) Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away everyone of you from his iniquities.
When the Apostle had thus clenched his doctrine, by a train of the most decided and unanswerable arguments, and from their own Scriptures; and confirmed the whole by a miracle wrought before their own eyes; he then endeavors to bring home the subject from the head to the heart. And who but must admire, the very sweet, persuasive, and conciliating manner, which he used upon the occasion. But let us not overlook the cause, nor in the Apostle's words forget the Apostle's Lord. It was God the Spirit, speaking in him, and by him! And must not all sermons be persuasive, when the Gospel is preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven? 1 Peter 1:12 .
I do not think it necessary to enlarge on the several parts of Peter's exhortation after his sermon. everything in it is plain and easy to be understood. The chief object of the Apostle was to lead their minds to Christ. He shews the Lord Jesus to have been the One great object, all along intended, from the Scriptures of truth, as the promised Messiah. He aims to soften the anger of their minds against themselves, in ascribing their rejection of Christ to their ignorance. But he shews no less, that what in times past might have been pleaded for want of knowledge; now it is known, if neglected, will prove their destruction. He calls upon them, as he had done before, (see Acts 2:37-40 . and Commentary,) to the exercise of that repentance, which nature herself dictates, when the conscience is made sensible of error. And he tells them, that in the refreshing of the Lord, their sins may be blotted out. In short, Peter makes a most affectionate appeal to the hearts of the people, and concludes with one of the sweetest entreaties language can furnish, to the children of God, whom he tells them they are. Unto you first, entitled by every claim to be first spoken to, (Luke 24:47 ; Acts 13:26 .) God having raised up his Son Jesus sent him to bless you in turning away everyone of you from his iniquities.
What a sweet thought is it to my soul, that to all the crippled faculties of my fallen nature; the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth can make me whole. Yea, his name, through faith in his name, will give a perfect soundness to all his redeemed. Lord! grant that in all my approaches to thy house of prayer, I may go always in thy name, making mention of thy righteousness, even thine only. And oh! with what holy joy and rapture, shall I tread thy courts, when God the Almighty God of our fathers! the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; thou hast indeed glorified thy Son Jesus! Oh! Lord, send down thine ascension-gifts, and bless my soul, in all the sweet manifestations of thy love. In thee, and by thee, and from thee, let all my joy be found. As a child in the Covenant, which God made with our fathers, being Christ's, and consequently Abraham's seed, and an heir according to the promise; let all my springs arise, and let that assurance to the great father of the faithful be mine also: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Acts 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17