Let the healing begin
David Blaine is an "illusionist", an "endurance artist" and an "extreme performer". He has a reported net worth of $40 million. He does things that amaze people. Incredible things. And every time he emergences from another act, he receives the applause and amazement, and the income it generates. He takes the glory, the applause, and the income, and goes on to the next one. Nothing surprising about that.
After the Holy Spirit arrives at Pentecost, the Church is born, and the believers gather together every day, the story then moves on with the words "One day..."
1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now 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. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.6Then 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.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they 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.
It's a well-known story. This is the new normal for Jesus' disciples. Healings. Miracles. Acts that amaze! A man lame from birth is healed and restored in an instant. He asks for money but receives complete healing. All in the name of Jesus. He is one of the many that will soon realise that when you come to Jesus, you get more than you ask for!
However, what's really interesting is what happens next - the response of the Israelites to this amazing act and the response of Peter to them...
11While 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. 12When 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?
Peter doesn't take the glory. Instead, he asks them "why are you surprised?" He then goes on to tell them that this is not HIS work, but the work of God, the very God who came in the person of Jesus, whom they themselves had killed.
16By 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.
It is by faith in Jesus that healing happened. But not only does Peter give all the glory to Jesus, he then goes on to call them to respond:
19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
And this is the most amazing work of God which we will continue to see in the book of Acts - not people talking in tongues, not lame people walking... The truly amazing work of God is when we see people repenting of their sins and turning to Jesus. This is the greatest work.
David Blaine's magic is pretty amazing. Even extraordinary. But the work of God in changing people's hearts to repentance has an eternal significance unmatched by any work of any human ever. Despite all the miracles, we cannot cease to be amazed by this recurring miracle throughout the book of Acts.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit in human lives - that by your power, hearts are changed and people enter into an eternal relationship with you. Thank you for the miracle you have worked in my life. Please continue to work through me, and every member of our church, so that we might see many more miracles like this every day as we share the news of Jesus. Amen.