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LESSON 10 - HEALERS IN NEED OF HEALING (ACTS 3:1-16)

Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: This quarter we have looked almost exclusively at
healings performed by Jesus.  The fact that Jesus, who was fully
God and fully man, performed healings may not give us any
confidence that we can "harness" the power to heal. Remember last
week we discussed whether the "age of miracles" had passed?  This
week we turn our attention to a healing performed by a sinful man
who betrayed his Lord. We will explore what role the human "healer"
plays in healings.

I. THE MAN AT BEAUTIFUL

     A. Turn with me this morning to Acts 3. Read verses 1-2. Tell
     me what the text reveals to you about this man? (That he was
     crippled from birth and he earned his living by begging.)

          1. What can you tell me about the man by reading "between
          the lines?"

               a. What does the fact that he is carried to and from
               the temple gate every day tell us? (That he had
               friends or family that helped him.)

               b. Why would you guess they called the temple gate
               "Beautiful?" (The questions get more difficult
               later.)

               c. My guess is that people might like to enter the
               temple through the beautiful way, because they
               enjoyed the aesthetics of the place. So what does
               this crippled beggar do for the ambience of this
               entrance?  How does he fit into this picture of
               perfection? (He does not fit in. Presumably a
               majestic and beautiful gate to the temple prepares
               and lifts your mind to worship an awesome God.
               Then you spy the beggar and your spirit feels
               fingernails screeching along a blackboard.)

                    (1) So why is the beggar there?  Why do the
                    "authorities" allow it? (The beggar would not
                    sit there every day if he were not making any
                    money. What this shows is that the people who
                    entered the temple had a heart for those who
                    were less fortunate.  Not all were going just
                    for the beauty, they were going to worship
                    God.)

                    (2) No one said the beggar was there by the
                    temple (the visible dwelling of God) because
                    he hoped to be healed by his proximity to God.
                    Is it reasonable to believe that was his
                    motive?

     B. Let's read on. Acts 3:3-5. Is this beggar hoping for a
     miracle because of his proximity to God or is he looking for
     help from man? (This makes it clear to me that he was there
     for monetary relief.)

          1. Are we like this crippled beggar?  We come close to
          God, but look to man for help?  We come close to God, but
          look for temporary relief (in the form of money) for what
          ails us?

          2. Notice all the discussion about who is looking at
          what. Verse 4 tells us that Peter and John looked
          "straight at" the beggar.  Then Peter told the beggar to
          look at them.

               a. If you have experience with beggars, do you look
               right at them?  Does the beggar look right at you?
               (Hitchhikers say that if the driver looks right at
               them they are much more likely to be given a ride.)

               b. Was Peter suggesting that the beggar should look
               to John and him for healing when he said "Look at
               us?"

               c. Did this beggar expect to get something because
               of all of this eye-contact? (Yes. See v.5.)

               d. Why did Peter tell the beggar to look at them?
               (Peter wanted to have this man's undivided
               attention.)
 

II. WHOSE FAITH?

     A. Read Acts 3:6-8. Whose faith healed the beggar?

     B. Did this crippled beggar have faith that he would be
     healed? (The text makes clear he expected money, not healing.
     However, when he was told to walk, he obeyed.  He made the
     effort to rise.)

          1. Peter said in v.4 "what I have I give you." What did
          Peter have?

               a. Did Peter have power to heal? (In Harrison's
               book, Interpreting Acts, he says (p.79) "In himself
               Peter had not more power to bestow healing than he
               had money in his wallet.")

                    (1) Is Harrison right?

                    (2) What about Matthew 10:8? Remember that we
                    looked at Matthew 10:8 last week? This text
                    says, "Freely you have received, freely give."
 
                         (a) What did the disciples receive in
                         Matthew 10:8?
 
                         (b) Is this what Peter was giving in Acts
                         3? (Compare Matthew 10:1 with Acts 3:6.
                         What Peter had was authority, in the name
                         of Jesus, to heal.)

               b. Read Acts 3:16. Does Peter tell us that he
               (Peter) had authority to heal? (He had authority to
               use Jesus' name. But Peter links two concepts
               together in verse 16. He says "Jesus' name" and
               "the faith that comes through [Jesus]" "has given
               complete healing.")

                    (1) Do we have the authority to use Jesus'
                    name? (Consider 1 Corinthians 12:4-11;
                    Ephesians 4:7-13; Romans 12:4-8. These texts
                    talk about "gifts" that all of us can have
                    from the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:9
                    specifically mentions healing as a gift.)

                    (2) Does that authority rest only on those who
                    are "worthy?"

                    (3) Does that authority rest only on those who
                    "have faith?"

III. "JARS OF CLAY"

     A. Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 4:5-10. What is meant by
     (v.7) "jars of clay?" (Us!)

          1. I understand on the surface why we can be called
          "clay." (Gen. 2:7) Why are we "jars?" (Jars hold
          something.)

          2. What is it that we "hold?" (Look at v. 7. It says we
          hold a "treasure.")

               a. So what is that "treasure?" (v.6. The knowledge
               of God reflected in Jesus. v.7 power from God.)

               b. Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit part of the
               "treasure?"

     B. Does the fact that the "jar" holds a treasure mean that the
     jar itself is a treasure?

     C. Turn with me to Luke 22:29-34, 54-62. Peter says in v.33
     that he is willing to die or be imprisoned for Jesus. Is this
     true? Did he know his own heart? (Read Luke 22:49-50. John
     18:10 casts additional light on this and reveals that this
     servant who drew his sword was Peter. This shows that Peter
     was willing to stand, fight and die for his Lord.)

          1. So how did Peter get from being willing to die to the
          repeated denial in Luke 22:56-60? (He believed in his
          sword and the fact that together they could win this
          fight. When Jesus allowed Himself to be taken captive it
          turned Peter's ideas completely upside-down.  It was not
          supposed to happen this way.)

          2. Do you see any parallel between the crippled beggar at
          the gate Beautiful and Peter during the Luke 22
          experience? (Yes. The crippled beggar was close to God,
          but was depending upon man (and his sharp realtors idea
          (location, location, location) on how to get money from
          man).  Peter was close to God, but was depending on his
          sword and his idea of how things should turn out.)

          3. If Peter is much like the man he healed in Acts 3, why
          does he get to heal?  Why does he have such moral
          superiority that he can call on God to heal the crippled
          beggar? (The point is that he does not have "moral
          superiority."  What he has is a knowledge that he is just
          a "jar of clay." Unlike the beggar, unlike his ideas in
          Luke 22, Peter now realizes this truth (Acts 3:12), and
          this realization is the "authority" that allows the power
          of God to work through faith.)

     D. Friend, do you sometimes get confused and believe that you
     are part of the "treasure" instead of just the "jar" holding
     the treasure? Are you a devoted Christian as long as things go
     the way you planned?  Do you believe you get part of the
     "credit" for your work in advancing the gospel?  God works
     most powerfully through jars, who clearly understand their
     role and are content to trust God whatever transpires.

IV. NEXT WEEK: "JESUS THE CHAMPION OF CHOICE AND LIBERATION."
Study!