A national magazine reported that there are approximately 1.5
million homeless people in our country. You’ve seen them on the
freeway exits and entrances holding cardboard signs. You’ve seen them
pushing their shopping carts around town.
You’ve seen them, and perhaps your heart has gone out to them — to
those who are homeless and hurting — to those who beg for change and
cry for help. You’ve seen them, and perhaps your heart has been angry
with them. Those lame people. Didn’t they see the Help Wanted sign at
Burger King? Why don’t they get a job?
You’ve seen them, and perhaps
your heart goes out to them one moment, and is angry with them the
next. I believe the passage before us sheds light on how we are to
respond to the hurting people around us.
During World War II, a little
church in Strasburg France was bombed by the German Luftwaffe. When
the war concluded, the people in the community cleared away the
rubble, and found a statue of Jesus, the base of which was inscribed
with these words: Come unto Me, all ye that are weary. It was
remarkably preserved except for both hands, which had been destroyed.
Hearing of this, the sculptor whose work it was immediately offered to
replace the hands. But the pastor wisely declined.
And so it was that
the statue was returned to its original position in front of the
Church, but with a new inscription which read: He has no hands on
earth but ours, for we are His Body. It’s true.
We are the Body of
Christ. If Jesus is going to reach out and touch a lame person — a
beggar, a hurting individual — it will be through our hands. He will
use us. In our text, I see three key components which will help us
deal with the hurting folks around us.
No doubt Peter and John had glanced at the lame man many times. But
this particular day, something took place deep within their hearts
which drew them to him. It was a moment of the miraculous. It was a
time for ministry.
So too, with you and me. When you drive by the
fellow who is asking for help, and you know it is not merely general
cultural guilt being imposed upon you, but a spiritual dynamic taking
place deep within you, you have a choice to make: You can say, ‘Wait a
minute. The Lord is doing something here.’ Or you can look away,
adjust your radio, and drive on.
Now, understand this: as the lame man
sat in the Gate Beautiful, Jesus Himself probably walked past him a
number of times. This tells me that Jesus didn’t minister according to
need, but according to obedience. Turn to John 5 . . . A whole lot of
hurting people were lying by the pool of Bethesda, each one hoping to
be the first in the pool when the water stirred, for the first one in
would be healed.
Jesus went in the back way, found the man furthest
from the edge of the pool and healed him (John 5:2-9). If I had been
Jesus, I would not have come in the back way and talked to one man at
the rear. I would have gone to the front, looked at everyone and said,
‘Everyone stand up! You're all healed!’ Why didn’t Jesus do that?
suggest it is because He didn’t minister according to the needs He
saw, but according to the directive of His Father, Who said, ‘There's
one person I want You to touch at the pool of Bethesda today.’
that’s why Jesus was so at peace in Himself, and why tranquility
radiated from Him. For, although Jesus was accused of being a glutton,
a winebibber, and a friend of sinners — He was never accused of being
busy or frazzled. He didn’t act according to the needs He saw. He
acted in obedience to what His Father said.
So too, when we do what He
tells us to do, we won’t be weighed down or stressed out because His
burden is easy; His load light (Matthew 11:28-30). He won’t overwhelm
us with the needs we see, rather He’ll direct us specifically. ‘You
have a $10 bill in your pocket. Give it to that person,’ or, ‘Give
some of your time to that man who needs to hear about Me.’
the voice of the Spirit and, like Jesus, you will respond not out of
compulsion, but out of compassion.
‘Give me some money,’ the lame man said. ‘Silver and gold have we
none,’ answered Peter and John. Really? Hadn’t at least 3,000
believers sold their goods and pooled their money? Peter and John must
have had access to lots of money.
Were they lying? No. I believe this
is what Peter and John were saying when they said they had neither
silver nor gold: ‘For you, sir, silver and gold have we none because
your need is not for a coin or two, or a ten or a twenty. Your need is
more profound, You need to be healed.’ Impacting Words
As Peter grabbed the lame man by the hand saying, ‘In the name of
Jesus, stand up and walk,’ I wonder if at that moment he thought,
‘What if nothing happens? Here I am, the leader of the Church. What if
I say, ‘In the name of Jesus, walk’ — and he falls down? It’s not
going to look good on my application for Pope.’ But Peter’s words were
impacting. He told the lame man to walk, and the lame man did just
Why? I suggest three reasons . . .
Peter and John were men of preparation
Where were Peter and John when this event took place? They were on
their way to the Temple for prayer, as was their custom. Often we’re
confronted with an opportunity to touch someone in order that he might
take steps physically or spiritually — but because we have not built
up a history of prayer, we are impotent and miss the moment of the
Turn to Matthew 17 . . . The disciples asked Jesus why
they were powerless to cast a demon out of a boy brought to them for
healing. Jesus answered, ‘This kind does not go out except by prayer
and fasting.’ The disciples probably scratched their heads and
thought, ‘How were we to know that a demonized boy would be brought
into our presence? We didn’t have time to fast.’ And perhaps with a
smile on His face, Jesus may have said, ‘That’s the point. You can’t
wait to begin fasting until it’s time to minister. You need to live a
life of prayer and fasting.’
You see, when the moment of the
miraculous opens before you, it's too late to say, ‘Boy, I better get
my faith together.’ Unless there has been a backlog of prayer and the
Word, of fasting and seeking — it will be too late.
seen a lame man. Your eyes became fastened to him, and you knew it was
an opportunity to share — but you felt impotent and powerless. Was it
because you were not a person of preparation?
Precious people, be in a
place where you are constantly being prepared, because you don't know
what's coming an hour or a week or a month or a year down the road.
You don’t know when your colleagues at work are going to say, ‘I need
something from you,’ even as this lame man did. You don’t know when
your neighbors are going to come to you crying and brokenhearted. You
don’t know when your kids are going to need you to minister powerfully
in the Spirit. I don’t know when those moments will be, but I do know
this: Like the disciples, we’re powerless unless we’ve been prepared.
Peter and John were men of impartation
Peter and John had been filled with the Holy Spirit. You can look
at the lame people with whom you work, the homeless who come your way,
the hurting folks who surround you every day — but unless you are
filled with the Spirit, you will have neither impacting words nor a
Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Go to Jerusalem. Wait for the promise
of the Father for you shall receive power when the Holy Ghost comes
upon you. And then you will be My witnesses,’ (Acts 1: 8).
thankful I am to be linked to a body of believers where so
many of you hunger and thirst for more of the Lord, for more of His
Peter and John were men of authorization
In addition to the power of the Spirit upon our lives, we need
authority, the OK, the green light — for a miracle to happen. You
might drive a Corvette with a 400 cubic foot engine under the hood.
When you drive, the ground shakes, people stare, folks drool. You’ve
got power. But when you come to a red light, it doesn’t matter how big
your engine is or how much power you have — you’ve got to stop.
too, many of you have been empowered by the Spirit. The ground may
shake and rattle all about you, and that’s terrific. But until the
Lord turns the light green, until He says, ‘Now is the time to deal
with that man, or give to that person,’ you can rev your engine all
you want, but you won’t make any progress.
On the other hand, you
might drive a car like my Volkswagen Beetle: even though the light may
be green, there’s no power when you hit the accelerator. You see, to
cross the intersection of the supernatural, we need power and
authority; and when those two points come together at a given moment,
the result is a miracle.
In the tiny compartment of a passenger train
sat a young Lieutenant in uniform. Next to him sat his commanding
officer, a crusty old General. Across from him sat a beautiful young
lady. Next to her was her grandmother. As the hours passed, an
attraction developed between the young lieutenant and the young lady.
They were laughing and talking and enjoying the trip when suddenly the
train went through a long dark tunnel.
Midway through the darkness,
the sound of a kiss was followed by the smack of a slap. As the train
emerged from the tunnel, the four travelers looked at each other with
a variety of expressions: The young lady was delighted that the
lieutenant would kiss her at that moment, but puzzled as to why her
grandmother would slap him. The grandmother was angry that the
lieutenant had the audacity to kiss her granddaughter, but grateful to
the General who slapped the young man in line. The General was proud
of his lieutenant for kissing the young lady, but confused and
smarting from the slap of the young girl. The lieutenant was hardly
able to contain the laughter within him, as he alone knew what had
actually transpired in the tunnel: Under cover of darkness he had
seized the moment to kiss the girl and smack the General.
moment, folks! Watch for the moment of the miraculous when the Lord
will use you in this dark tunnel of time to slap the Enemy in the
face, as you heal a hurting world.