The Blessing of Turning – Acts 3

Nov 24, 2021 By: Damien Garofalo Topic: Sermon Devotional Series: Acts Scripture: Acts 3

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. (Acts 3:16 ESV)

At the end of Acts 2, we saw the love that the disciples had for one another in the newly empowered church. But as many of us know, the Book of Acts continues as a narrative of the church engaging the world outside its own community. Chapter 3 is one of the first encounters with the neediness of the world.

This chapter records for us another miracle, this time wrought by the Spirit through Peter and John, as they heal a man who was lame from birth as he sat outside the temple hoping for charity. The man’s healing was so immediate and miraculous that he leapt for joy! It didn’t take long for many in the community to notice.

As with the miracle at Pentecost, this display of God’s power opened the door for another evangelistic sermon. Peter delivers a powerful message, grounding the triumph of Christ within the Jewish prophets and scriptures. We find in the next chapter that, as a result, the number of disciples grew to 5,000!

This passage helps us to understand the relationship of “works of mercy” and evangelism. By “works of mercy,” we mean to say those compassionate acts that help people’s immediate, physical needs such as feeding the hungry, giving to the poor, or healing the sick. These acts may not have eternal value but they do demonstrate the love of God.

Evangelism, of course, is the preaching of the gospel. This work recognizes that man’s greatest need is not food or money or health but salvation from sin. Thus, evangelism is the church’s primary emphasis as it engages the culture.

But that said, this text, as well as a number of other narratives in both the Gospels and in Acts, show us both. Peter and John perform a work of mercy (healing the lame man) which then leads to evangelism. In short, works of mercy open a door for us to be able to say more about the God who heals, who feeds, and who restores.

Let us come to church Sunday ready to be challenged about how we perceive our own displays of Christ’s love to a needy world, and let us be ready, by the Spirit, to make any necessary adjustments.