Did you ever wonder why only Peter and John are mentioned here (3:1)? The Lord had three favorite apostles (Mark 5:36-38; 9:2; 14:32), but James seems to have fallen from favor from Luke 22:8 onward. After that, it was always just James and John (Acts 4:13,19; 8:14).
Perhaps it was because James wanted the best seats in the house in the kingdom (Mark 10:35-37). Of course, John did too. But James is always mentioned before John, suggesting he was the dominant brother, and therefore the ringleader in that power grab. So James may have been an example of how pride goes before a fall (Pr. 16:18; 29:23).
But Peter was guilty of pride too (Mark 14:27-31), and didn’t fall from among the Lord’s three favorites. That’s why I think James counted himself out of the Lord’s favor. He probably never forgave himself for failing the Lord—like many Christians do today. The Lord honored his decision in Luke 22:8 to give him time to heal. He’ll come back stronger than ever in the kingdom—and so can you if you too are still beating yourself up about some way you let the Lord down.
You wouldn’t think they’d go into the Jews’ temple (3:1) after the Lord denounced it (Mt. 23:38), but remember, He asked God to forgive them (Lu. 23:34) and He did. So the temple continued to be God’s center of operations (cf. Acts 2:46). That’s significant since most Bible teachers say God broke off relations with Israel at the cross and didn’t give her another chance, choosing to start something new at Pentecost instead with the Body of Christ. But that didn’t happen until they stoned Stephen, after which God started the Body with Paul, who did stop hanging around the temple!
If James and John weren’t under the law any more, you’d also think they’d have stopped observing the law’s “hour of prayer” (3:1). The Jews actually had three hours of prayer (Ps. 55:17), and Peter never did stop observing them (Acts 10:9), even after the age of grace began with Paul in Acts 9. The kingdom saints also kept offering animal sacrifices (Acts 21:20).
The Lord healed lame men as a sign He was Messiah (Luke 7:22), but the disciples were supposed to give signs of that too (Isa. 8:18 cf. Jo. 13:33;21:5). Of course, Paul healed a lame man too, but his first miracle was symbolic. A Jew was blinded so a Gentile could be saved (Acts 13:6-13). That’s what’s happening today in the dispensation of grace (Rom. 11:25). Peter’s first miracle was also symbolic.
You see, the Jews had to walk with God to be saved (Ex. 16:4; Pr. 28:18). When this lame man was laid outside the temple, too lame to enter, he symbolized the nation of Israel, too lame to walk with God into the kingdom. Being lame “from his mother’s womb” was a symbol of how Israel’s lameness was caused by her religion (cf. Gal. 1:13-15). The apostles did “many” miracles (Acts 2:43), too many for the Spirit to record, but the ones He did record were symbolic.
Instead of enriching the nation in the kingdom, the Jews’ religion had reduced them to the status of spiritual beggar, as symbolized by this lame man (Acts 3:3).
Peter had no money (Acts 3:4-6) for he had obeyed the Lord’s command to sell all he had and share the proceeds with the saints to be saved (Lu. 18:18,22 cf. Mt. 19:27-29).
When healers can’t heal you today, they say it’s because you don’t have enough faith. But this lame man didn’t believe Peter could heal him! He wasn’t expecting healing. He wasn’t even asking for it. This shows modern healers aren’t of God.
When God heals, He heals magnificently (Acts 3:7,8), but modern healers not so much—more proof they are not sent of God. We see even more proof of this in that this lame man was known by everyone to be lame (Acts 3:9-11), but we can’t be as sure of the strangers “healed” on TV!
What we’re seeing with the healing of this lame man is a taste of the kingdom of heaven on earth (Isaiah 35:1,6). Now God still knows how to heal, but He is giving you the opportunity to show others that His grace is sufficient for you instead (II Cor. 12:7-9). Are you showing it?
Video of this lesson is also available on YouTube: An Example of Apostolic Teamwork – Acts 3:1-11