Dr. E. Dale Locke and Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon Series: Chapter Two
Week 3: From One Beggar to Another
- Read Ezekiel 36:26-28:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
What is Ezekiel talking about here? How does a person get a “new heart,” and what effect does it have on our life when we get that new heart?
- We’ve called this sermon series “Chapter Two: A Future With Hope” to reflect numerous “chapter two” transitions going on in our church. We’re going through the book of Acts, where Luke describes what happened after Jesus’ resurrection. In Acts 1, Jesus ascended back to heaven. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came and the Church was born. Act 2 was the start of what Ezekiel was describing in the passage above. Today we will look at Acts 3.
Read Acts 3:1-16:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer– at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter 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.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.
12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “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? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.”
What questions or comments come to your mind from this Scripture?
Note that this man was crippled from birth. John Ortberg writes: “The ancient world, however was way harsher (than today). It’s almost hard to read or to say, that in the ancient world, the Greeks regularly disposed of newborn infants with physical limitations. Aristotle once wrote, “let there be a law that no deformed child be raised.” And in Rome, during the 5th century B.C, there was actually a law on the books about exterminating those who struggled with physical challenges.
In Israel, there was a whole different stigma: There was the erroneous, yet common assumption that if people were suffering physically, they had somehow brought it on themselves. We may remember the story in the Gospel regarding the blind man, and the disciples asking, “Rabbi, who sinned, the man, or his parents?” At that time, people with physical disabilities had no value.
What hints do you see in this passage that that God’s people treated people with disabilities differently? What do you think motivated them to treat them differently?
If we’re ever going to experience a “Chapter 2” moment in our lives, we have to deal with what we know about ourselves:
- Pastor Dale pointed out that all of us are “crippled” in some way, and all of us are “beggars” like the man in this story. Share with the group about one area in your life that was broken when you first came to Christ.
- Why do humans tend to point out the flaws of others more than we see our own flaws?
- In Reggie McNeal’s book Practicing Greatness, he writes:
If the path to self-awareness sounds like a long and arduous pathway, full of insights you may be thinking you’d rather not have to face, it’s worth keeping in mind, that there is often a tremendous price to be paid for the failure to work on and gain self-awareness. Self-awareness is not automatic, nor can it be assumed. But the payoffs for developing this discipline will be tremendous in the long run.
What does the expression “self-awareness” mean? How do we develop better self-awareness? What do you think of what McNeal says here?
Where do you go with what you know?
- Note from Acts 3:2 that this man went to the “temple gate called Beautiful” and people carried him there. He when there every day, with the goal of gathering small change, and so – for all those years – he never experiences the total life change that God wanted for him. What parallels do we see to this in our culture today?
Who better to invite you in, than the One who knows where you’ve been!
- Read Acts 3:4-6 again: Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter 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.”
What past experiences in Peter’s past life helped him to understand that God had a much deeper, better change in mind for this man than for him to just gather a little bit of money?
- Read the following two passages, which describe Jesus:
Isaiah 53:3a: He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Hebrews 4:15-16: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
What do these two passages communicate about how Jesus will respond to you if your life is broken, painful or messy?
- Read Acts 3:16: By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
Share about some ways that Jesus has brought healing to your life.