When I read this chapter, I think, “Man, I wish I could see stuff like that happen today!” I’ve yet to see a crippled man get up and walk at the doors of the church building.
I know many other Christians think these same thoughts. Some Christians believe this kind of thing should be going on every day in every church across the world. They say Christians should be performing healing miracles everywhere they go.
Of course, that’s not happening. Many faith-filled Christians have never witnessed, much less been involved in, miracles like this one. This remains a mystery to me. I don’t know why God doesn’t do this more. We hear stories about miracles like this still happening in other parts of the world. Some here say those other believers must be mistaken, and they doubt them. Others here say we just lack the faith required for God to perform those miracles here. I don’t know what the answer is.
I do know that one tendency is to ramp up my spiritual life in hopes that God will begin to do the miraculous through me. If only I prayed more, if only I spoke more often with God or the Holy Spirit, if only I were more devoted to the study of Scripture or to meditating on it, if only I were thinking about the right things during the day – then perhaps God would work miracles through me.
Of course, Peter and John shot down that idea. The people were looking at them in wonder. But Peter said, “why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” Certainly, we know it wasn’t by Peter and John’s power that enacted this healing. But Peter clarifies it wasn’t by their “piety” either.
Piety is equated with devotion, and it is lived out in things like prayer and meditation and time in Scripture. To live a pious life means that we do those things with great earnestness. We are devoted to God and his kingdom. But it isn’t by piety that miracles come. We can’t just beef up our acts of piety in order to experience them.
Fundamentally, miracles are done by the hand of God, as he pleases. The balance of Scripture makes this clear. God is in charge. He heals whom he wants to heal. But Peter and John do give us insight into what we ought to be doing. And it is not necessarily miracles.
We are to trust and obey. Peter said, “And his (Jesus’) name – by faith in his name – has made this man strong …” Faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ should be the foundational piece in every Christian’s life. We believe in the identity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of Israel. We believe in the power of Jesus Christ to heal. Jesus is, after all, the “Author of life.”
And we live out our faith in obedience. We don’t have true faith if we also don’t live in obedience to Christ. It’s as simple as that. Peter pulled out an old prophecy from Moses – from Deuteronomy 18:15 and following – to demonstrate this. “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.”
We have work to do in this area – in obedience to Jesus Christ. The tendency is to let some things slide. We are called to do certain things in the words of Christ – in the Scriptures – and we simply don’t do them. We’ll do them later, we say. In these instances, I think Peter would call into question our “faith in his name.”
Some questions for your day: What area of obedience (or lack of it) to Christ comes to mind for you today? What are you going to do about it?