The first miracle

Not only did Peter, the apostle that denied he knew Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75) get the privilege of preaching the first sermon after Jesus was resurrected, but Peter also got to perform the first miracle of healing. As Peter and John were entering the temple in Jerusalem, a man that Luke described as “lame from his mother’s womb” (Acts 3:2) begged the two apostles to give him some money. Then, Luke said, “And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lift him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength, and he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:4-8).

His confidence in grabbing the lame man by the hand and lifting him to his feet suggests that Peter was operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Although he seemed to be acting impulsively, Peter may have been directed by God to seek out the lame man and to perform this miracle of healing ahead of time. His remark, “such as I have give I thee” was an indicator that Peter knew God wanted him to heal the lame man even though the lame man had not asked him to. The astonishing thing about this miracle of healing was that the lame man’s belief in God didn’t seem to be a factor. Luke said when Peter took the man by the right hand and lifted him up, “immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength” (Acts 3:7). Apparently, the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit was all that was needed to make it possible for the lame man to do something he never had before, walk on his own two feet.

Peter used the healing of the lame man as a springboard to launch his second sermon to the people of Jerusalem. In his follow-up message, Peter emphasized Jesus’ deity by referring to him as the “Holy One” and the “Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). Peter also pointed out that it was faith in the name of Jesus that caused the lame man to be able to walk. He said, “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16). Peter’s identification of the source of his miraculous power as the name of Jesus makes it seem as if the mere mention of Jesus’ name made it possible for the lame man to be converted. It’s possible, the lame man put his trust in Jesus at the moment Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).

Who are you?

Jesus’ identity was still being questioned when he was brought before the high priest and elders of the Jewish religion the night before he was crucified. After he refused to defend himself against the charges that were being made, the high priest said to Jesus, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). Jesus’ response was understood by these religious leaders to be a declaration of his deity. He stated, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need have we any further of witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death” (Mark 14:62-64).

The high priest’s accusation of blasphemy indicated that he thought Jesus was lying about his identity. The primary issue the religious leaders had was that they knew Jesus was a man like themselves. Even though Jesus was human, he was also God. Jesus never explained how he existed before he was born into the world, but stated emphatically, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The Apostle John identified Jesus as the Word and said of him, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). The Apostle Paul expanded on John’s description by stating that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).

Jesus’ conversation with the Roman governor Pontius Pilate revealed the dilemma he faced in keeping his identity from being the central focus of his interrogation. The Apostle John’s record of the Roman phase of Jesus’ trial suggests that he was present in the Praetorium, the governor’s official residence, for this trial (note on John 18:28). He stated:

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:33-36, ESV)

Jesus’ declaration that his kingdom is not of this world was probably meant to bring to Pilate’s attention the fact that he was more than just a human being. According to John’s record, Pilate never asked Jesus about his origin or the physical location of his kingdom, but Jesus made it clear to him that he came from a place outside the physical structure of Earth (John 18:37).