Acts 3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. 4 Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God…
Stay with me here. You may recall the story from the gospels in which the disciples were unable to help a boy with a demon (Matthew 17:14-21). We’re told the disciples went to Jesus in private and asked why they had failed.
20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
There is no lack of faith in Peter and John in today’s passage from Acts. The shaky disciples (learners) we read about in Matthew 17 have grown to be apostles (sent ones) ministering in power of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. The words Peter uses (“stand up and walk”) echo Jesus’ command in John 5 when Jesus tells a man “Stand up, take your mat, and walk”. In other words, Peter and John are simply doing what they saw Jesus do many, many times.
There was a time when I ministered healing with much more confidence than I do now. And that’s mainly because I regularly saw with my own eyes people receive healing from illness and disease and deliverance from demons. And in some cases I was the one doing the praying. I’m reminded this morning that the key to seeing God move like this is not special words or a formula of some kind. Nor is it the need for the person praying to be especially holy. The power is in the name of Jesus Christ and the desire of the Holy Spirit to set people free. Which means this power is available to all baptized Christians. Even you and me dear reader. Pray with me.
Lord Jesus too many of us Christians shy away from healing ministry. We fear that our prayers may not be answered. Or that we might give false hope to others. Or whatever. But this morning I’m reminded this is just a strategy of the enemy to mitigate our effectiveness in ministry, to prevent us from employing the resources of the Kingdom of God. Lord, give us grace to suspend our disbelief long enough to release healing for others in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name which is above all names – Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.