Peter & The Power of the Holy SpiritSeptember 9, 2015
Peter & The Holy Spirit Series: “Self”September 24, 2015
One afternoon John and I were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—about three in the afternoon. We were talking about Jesus’ return to heaven, and the coming of the Holy Spirit just a few weeks ago, as Jesus had promised. We had experienced the Spirit’s power-packed arrival on that morning of the Pentecost feast, and what an arrival it was!
Since then this Holy Spirit had begun to fill us with his presence and power, but today seemed like any other day, except after the Holy Spirit starts to fill you, any day might be more than … well, just listen to the story.
There was a man who was lame from birth who sat every day at the temple gate, the gate called Beautiful, where he begged for money. I have walked this way so many times I rarely even notice this incredible gate made of Corinthian bronze. Sadly, the same would be true of this beggar. I’m sure I was one among many who failed to notice this lame man, and I’m equally sure he lived every day with our rejection.
But today I was looking intently at the craftsmanship and the beauty of the bronze, studying the incredible detailing, and thinking about how this kind of raw display of wealth and power used to dazzle me. I used to be truly impressed by this sort of thing. I wanted more luxury in my life. I wanted more money. I wanted more power. I wanted my version of these Corinthian bronze gates.
As I reflected on how much Jesus has changed me, and how little allure money and power now held for me, I noticed the man gesturing to John and me. When he saw us about to enter the temple, he asked us for money. I looked straight at him, as did John. Then I said, “Look at us!” So the man gave me his attention, expecting to get something from us.
Oh yes, he was about to get something from us, only neither of us expected what would happen next.
At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit moving in me. I cannot adequately describe the feeling, and even if I could, I doubt you have the mind to understand it. I’m not sure I do. Something was happening; a power was surging through me, but I didn’t know what to expect next.
Without hesitation, or really any forethought at all, I said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” I then reached down and took him by the right hand and helped him up. Instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
He was as surprised as I was. I was shocked, actually. Later John told me I looked like I had seen Judas Iscariot himself rise from the grave. This lame man was healed by my touch! What kind of power is this, that surged through my veins in that moment? I had healed before, but that had been a while ago, and Jesus had been with us back then.
But now he was in heaven. It was just us. Just me. Or so I thought.
So now the man is walking around, hopping and exclaiming, “I can walk, I can walk! Look everyone, a miracle has happened! I can walk. Look at my legs. Watch how high I can jump!”
He grabbed me and the next thing I know we are in a dance. There we were: big, gruff Peter, the weathered fisherman, dancing in circles with this scrawny little man. John was buckled over laughing. What a sight!
Then, as the man grabbed and hugged both John and me, all the people came running toward us. They were all astonished, and I can still hear them telling everyone they encountered, “These men were with Jesus. The miracle worker. Are they to be new prophets themselves?”
As a result, over the next few days and weeks, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats, hoping that my shadow might fall on some of them.
Are you impressed by this? Do you think, as so many do, that I am a super Apostle? I would guess you do indeed. You probably think that having been filled with that kind of healing power, I would spend the rest of my days “soaring like eagles with wings.” The great Apostle Peter! The “first apostle,” some say. The one Jesus singled out to “carry the keys to the Kingdom.”
If you do, you are wrong. I am just a man. You could do this very same thing. Or I should say the Holy Spirit could do this same thing through you. Do you believe this?
If you think highly of me because of this miracle, then I would say to you, as I did to my fellow Israelites after that man stood up and walked for the first time, “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”
Then I raised my voice with an inner sense of complete confidence and exclaimed, “By trust in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.”
Later that day John and I sat down together over our evening meal of bread and stew. I was still recovering from the power surge I had experienced (and maybe a little from my public dancing display). As we reflected on the healing miracle, John looked at me and winked and said, “I tell you the truth, whoever trusts in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Those were Jesus’ words to us over dinner our last night together before his crucifixion. They were just starting to make sense.