Healing is an emotionally-charged topic. There are people who believe healing is for today and those who dont. There are people who have been healed and those who havent. There are people whom God has used to heal others, and those whove tried and failed. There are even people whove walked away from God because they sought healing for a loved one, but that person died. So, by just mentioning the topic, all sorts of emotions and memories come to mind.
Ive been asking God to teach me to pray for healing ever since my aunt died when I was 13 years old. And Ive learned some things over the years, but as time passes it seems the main lesson Ive learned is how much I still dont know. But I refuse to stop learning. I refuse to let the disappointments cause me to withdraw. I refuse to stop praying for the sick. I refuse to stop believing that God heals. Dont get me wrong, I have been privileged to participate in many amazing healings. Some people say, Ive never seen a real miracle with my own eyes, but Ive seen many. I could spend hours telling story after story that are phenomenal. I mean ones that time and medical evidence have proved out. So its not that I doubt that God has the power. The real question for me is why some and not others. And Im not comfortable with the answer that says God just doesnt choose to heal some. Yes, I know theres a time for everyone to die, but youd have a hard time convincing me that some of those weve lost had arrived at their time.
Luke actually takes two chapters (Ac 3, 4) to discuss this one remarkable healing and the effect it had on the city. And he gives such detail, and quotes Peter so precisely, that he presents us with a case-study on healing. Profound insights are given about how the apostles approached healing, and even what took place inside the lame man himself. So lets be open to learn. Lets watch Peter model healing and then listen as he explains what happened.
The miracle (Ac 3:1-16)
v2: Peter and John had not yet arrived at the temple complex when they first encountered this man. They were still walking through the city streets when at some point they found themselves beside a man being carried on a stretcher. He was on his way to the steps which led up into the inner courts of the temple in order to position himself there to beg from those pious Jews who would be entering and exiting before and after the hour-and-a-half evening prayer service (Eidersheim, The Temple, Eerdmans, reprinted 1988, p 144). He was a very familiar personality in the temple. Friends or family brought him every day and placed him by the eastern gate, which led from the large outer Court of the Gentiles into the inner courts around the temple itself, so that everyone who went into the temple to worship would see him. He had been born with legs which were maimed. It had been obvious from the moment he was born that they didnt work.
v3: When the lame man saw Peter and John turning to go into the temple, probably toward the southern stairs which led up into the large Court of the Gentiles near the Portico of Solomon (v11), he caught their attention and asked to be given a gift. And they undoubtedly recognized him, having passed by him many times over the years. In fact, Jesus Himself must have passed him many times as well.
v4: Luke says Peter and John looked at him and didnt turn away. Its quite evident from this description that they were in the process of spiritually discerning the situation. They were seeing more than a beggar in front of them. They were watching God do something and waiting for instructions. Later on in Acts, Luke will describe Paul in a very similar situation (Ac 14:8-10). There, he explains what Paul saw. He says he saw that the man had faith to be healed. At some point Peter spoke to the man saying look at us! It may be that he had diverted his eyes downward out of shame or humility.
vs5-6: He looked up thinking he was about to receive a gift, but Peter said, I dont have silver and gold, but what I have, this I give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, walk!
vs7-10: And seizing him by the right hand he raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones became firm. And leaping up, he stood and was walking around and entered into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. And they recognized him, that this was the one that was sitting at the Beautiful Gate (begging) for alms, and they were filled with amazement (lit: scared stiff) and shock (lit: beside themselves) at what had happened to him.
v11: Attendance at the evening service must have been severely reduced that day. The healed man created quite a disturbance in the crowded courtyard and everyone who realized what had just taken place ran toward the Portico of Solomon where he was still holding on to Peter and John, which probably means he couldnt stop hugging them.
v12: Seeing the way the crowd was looking at them alarmed Peter. He knew they thought he and John had within themselves the power to do such things. The idea was blasphemous and he quickly attempted to correct their confusion. He asked them two questions: First, why are you so surprised at the miracle which has happened to this man? And second, why are you staring at us as if the power which caused this miracle came forth from us, or if by our zealous observance of the Law weve attained a level of righteousness where God performs such miracles whenever we ask Him?
What the apostles saw
Lets stop here for a moment and take note of what was happening inside Peter and John during this miracle. They looked with their spiritual eyes and saw:
1) Who God was touching. There were many beggars and many ill. Peter and John did not stop to pray for everyone they passed. Like Jesus had taught them, they were doing what they saw the Father doing (Jn 5:19, 20). I dont think this seeing was just in the form of a vision. You can actually observe when the Holy Spirit moves upon a person and that person begins to receive. I think they saw the Spirit come and the man respond.
2) What they were to say and do. There is no set formula for healing. Jesus healed in many different ways. So Peter must have seen himself, in his minds eye, reaching out and taking the man by the hand, and also heard what he was to say. There would have been a moment during this miracle when Peter had to decide whether or not he would obey what he was being shown, because if the man couldnt stand after he lifted him up it would be traumatic and embarrassing.
3) Misplaced awe in the eyes of the crowd. The crowd was far too impressed with them. Undoubtedly Peter and John had seen that look before when ministering beside Jesus, and in that case the look was appropriate, but what was happening now was terribly wrong. People were focusing on the human vessel, not the divine Source.
What happened inside the man (Ac 3:16)
1) The mans faith was focused on Jesus. The miracle didnt result from begging or bargaining or positive thinking. The man dared to believe that God would heal, and dared to try to stand, because he was calling on Jesus for mercy. He came to the Father, through Jesus. His sins were covered. He believed God wanted to heal him.
2) Peter expected immediate results, and encouraged the man to step out by faith. Again, remember this wasnt a technique. Peter saw God moving and what he was to do at that moment.
So, when I ask for healing I need to focus entirely on what Jesus has done for me, not on myself, or the person praying for me. I must totally believe I am forgiven, loved, clean, and given every promise because I am joined to Jesus.
2 Corinthians 1:20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes
The Source (Ac 4:1-12; 23-30)
Peter and John were arrested and brought before the religious leaders for questioning. Peters answers, along with the prayer offered by the congregation afterward, form a very precise explanation of the roles played by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in healing:
Ac 4:7 By what power, or in what name have you done this?
- Is the power from you, or are you administering someone elses power?
Ac 4:10 Peter answered (in the Spirit, v8): This man stands before you whole in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene (crucified and raised)
there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Ac 4:30 The congregations prayer:
by the stretching forth of Thy hand (God the Father, vs 24, 27) to heal, and signs and wonders to happen, through (dia) the name of your holy servant Jesus.
The Source of all: the Father
The Source of our salvation which makes the gifts of God possible: the Son
The Source of power which produces the healing in our body: the Holy Spirit (v31)
If we listen carefully to what Peter is teaching us, well discover that healing isnt about us. Its about helping people discover the riches Jesus has won for them. Yes, we may have a role to play in someones healing, so we need to learn to watch for what God is doing and what He wants us to do in response. But its all much simpler than we tend to make it. Faith to be healed is being confident that I can boldly come to the Father through (covered by) Jesus, and know that He wants to heal me, and then as the Spirit moves, I step out, trusting Him.
Understanding healing this way means that all believers can, and should, be involved in the ministry of healing. The Spirit will lead all of us: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. (Ro 8:14)
1) Have you ever seen a miracle with your own eyes? Tell us about it.
2) If someone was ill, what would you say to them about healing?