Glory Deflection

Adobe Spark-7

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. – Isaiah 35:5–6

There were likely a few questions on the minds of those living in the time immediately following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Questions like, “Was all this for real, or was it just some big hoax?” Or, “Now that Jesus is gone, has his power left the earth?” Or, “Who’s in charge of all these followers of Jesus now?” Perhaps, “Who’s going to step in and take Jesus’ place?” All of these questions were answered by the events that Luke recorded for us in Acts 3. Was the ministry of Jesus over after Jesus ascended? Was everything going to fall apart now that he was gone? Through the Apostle Peter, Jesus gives an emphatic, NO!

Peter and John are walking to the temple when they come across a lame man begging for money. Peter responds to the man that he doesn’t have silver and gold, but he has something better. Without any fanfare or ritual, he simply says, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Peter reaches out his hand and helps the man to his feet. The man is healed so thoroughly that he begins, “walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Of course, this dramatic display of power drew a crowd. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaches the second sermon of early church. His sermon began like this:

While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. [12] And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? [13] The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. [14] But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, [15] and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. [16] And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.[17] “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. [18] But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. [19] Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 3:11-19 (ESV)

This morning, I want us to consider three things about the meaning of this event and the sermon that followed:

First, we should learn something about the purpose of biblical miracles. Peter’s miracle is done by a specific power, in a specific place, for a specific purpose. This miracle proved the continuation of Jesus’ ministry through the apostles, and it established Peter as a leader in the early church. We might be inclined to always be on the hunt for “supernatural” events like this, but, as we can see from Peter’s sermon, that certainly was not Peter’s message as he explained the event.

Second, we should learn from Peter about deflecting glory to Christ. With a huge crowd gathered in amazement at what just happened, Peter could have said seized the moment to enjoy the spotlight. I see this all the time in the church. “I have a gift, so I need the spotlight.” When the light is shone on Peter, he deflects it. “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” says Peter.  He then spends the remainder of the chapter pointing all who would listen to Jesus and calling them to repentance. We should be doing the same. In Matthew 5, Jesus calls us to be lights int he world, he says that people will see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven. Peter took this to heart. Have you?

When fruit appears in your life, are you taking the opportunity to celebrate what Jesus has done? Have you recognized that your own power and piety are not enough to do anything? Beware a love of the spotlight. We are never worthy of glory, we always deflect it.

Finally, we should take note of a valuable inference about spiritual leadership. At no point did Peter have to stand up and remind everyone that he was in charge. He never had to list off his gifts. He didn’t remind the people that Jesus gave him the keys to the Kingdom. Peter simply acted under spirit’s leadership and power and proclaimed Christ. In 1 Timothy 3:1, Paul says that the desire to be an “overseer” is a good one. In other words, it’s not wrong to want to lead within the church. Yet immediately he begins to describe the character of one qualified to be an overseer. In other words, those who would be godly leaders will focus on their character, not their plays for power and position.

Grace & Peace.

Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 3.

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