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Sep 08

Peter’s Transformation

For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite types of movies is one that starts with somebody who is in some way weak. Then, through hard work, physical training, or an external influence—they become powerful. For instance, in the movie Captain America, the main character starts off as a scrawny man who has overwhelming health problems and can’t get into the military because of them. Yet he wants to join the war effort so bad that he goes to recruiter after recruiter to try to get in. Eventually he does and they perform an experiment on him. He enters a chamber as an unhealthy pile of skin and bones and exits a powerful and built man with super-human strength. They make him a shield and the rest is comic book history.

I’ve always loved the story recounted in Acts 3:1-10, and I think it’s because it’s this exact type of story that I find in Luke’s second letter to Theophilus. In the final chapters of the Gospel of Luke, the precursor to the book of Acts, the last we see of Peter has him arguing with others about who’s the greatest, claiming he would never betray Jesus, and then denying Jesus when confronted about whether or not he’s one of his disciples. All of this happened as his rabbi, Jesus, is preparing to be murdered. This is not the man we find, however, in the book of Acts.

Almost immediately, Peter is transformed into this sort of spiritual giant in the book of Acts. Nowhere is this seen more vividly than the encounter he has with a beggar at the temple gate. The man they meet had been crippled from birth. He asks Peter and John for money. Peter’s response isn’t “I’m sorry I don’t have money.” Nor is it “I can’t help you physically, but I can help you spiritually…” No. He looks the man dead in the eye, and says “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And then, apparently the man was so impacted physically that he didn’t simply tentatively stand up, but jumped to his feet. Peter, the man who denied Jesus and cowered in fear, boldly lives faith. Something in him changed dramatically.

Right when we’re wondering whether or not Peter’s attitude of “who’s the greatest among us?” from Luke’s Gospel would continue now that he has just been a part of something completely remarkable, Luke answers the question for us.

“While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, 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?”

 The only explanation, for this incredible change in Peter is the explanation he gives to both the man who was healed and the surprised onlookers: It’s through Jesus Christ. Before Jesus died Peter was broken. When Jesus died, his life was shattered. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus restored and transformed Peter to what He always wanted Him to be.

This is the transformation you and I go through when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Peter was just a man, it was through the power of the Holy Spirit that he walked in boldness the way he did. Live in the reality God has created in you so you can see what He wants to do through you.

For Further Conversation:

1.) Luke in his narrative on the miracle of the healing of the lame man describes several contrasts.  Read through Acts 3 and see if you can list several below:

  2.)    When you think of prayer do you mostly think in terms of something you do privately between you and God?  Peter and the followers of Jesus had a habit of partnering in prayer Acts 1:14, 2:42, 4:29-31.  What are some ways we can partner in prayer for the purposes of God to be carried out in our generation?

3. ) Have you ever asked for something and received more in return? Can God see beyond your request?

4. ) What does Peter say concerning the name of Jesus in Acts 3:16, 19; 4:10-12, 4:18-20, 29, 30?  What is the significance of the name of Jesus?

5. ) Do we sometimes limit our vision for helping people to just their physical needs and ignore the spiritual?  In what ways can inviting people into a living relationship with Jesus helpful with someone’s spiritual condition?

6. ) The religious authorities tried to censor Peter and John from sharing about Jesus.  What was their response in Acts 4:19-20?  Why is it that we can help being silent concerning what we have seen and heard?

 

 

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