Acts 3


Reading Luke and Acts in 2020

Week 27  |  Acts 3

Acts 3 Reflections and Questions

By Rev. Keith E. Lawder

Believing is Seeing

Several years ago, I went on a mission trip to Montana with the youth of our church. We stayed in a school on a reservation for Native Americans, working on some home maintenance projects and with the children in a day program. It was an eye-opening experience! We witnessed poverty, lack of jobs, reduced educational opportunities, and a far different lifestyle than ours. It struck me that sight is a big problem for these folks and us.

Many people there cannot see a future any different than what they are experiencing now. Unfortunately, most of us do not see them or their problems. As I read Chapter 3 in Acts, it occurred to me the problem Peter and John faced was very much the same: spiritual blindness. People suffering from spiritual blindness can miss the miracles and stop short of transformation.

You know the story. A lame man is begging for alms near the gate. Peter and John have no money to give him but heal him by the name of Jesus. Notice the language in the text. Peter asks the man to look at him. Only when he looks at Peter is he healed. Luke says that “all the people” were astonished to see the man leaping for joy on the Temple courtyards. They looked, but did they really see?

In the second scene of the chapter, Peter, recognizing that he has attracted a crowd, proceeds to deliver a sermon. Before Pentecost, Peter seems to be anything but a polished orator. He delivers a great sermon which connects Jesus with the prophets and connects the peoples’ complicity in Jesus' death with the potential for repentance and forgiveness (they didn’t see Jesus for who He is). Peter closes by offering healing for their spiritual blindness!

We are not so very different from the folks on the reservation or the folks in first-century Palestine. We know things are not the way we think they are supposed to be, yet, we are reluctant to let go of what we can see in order to experience transformation. And oh, by the way, God has identified us and chosen us to experience transformation: to fully recover our spiritual sight!

So, what are we supposed to do with this story? Shall we file it away in a cabinet marked miracle stories? Or should we see this story as a call to surrender our spiritual blindness in exchange for Jesus’ vision for our lives? Try these simple exercises.
  1. Carefully watch or read a news story. Pick one which is a bit shocking perhaps. Now close your eyes and re-witness the story through Jesus’ eyes. How is Jesus’ vision different?
  2. Think about a miracle story in your own experience: Perhaps it is a recovery story or a feeding story or an act of grace story. Mull over it for a minute. Can you feel it help to clarify your vision?
  3. Ask yourself what you can do this week to help someone else to experience what Luke labels “refreshing” i.e. casting off spiritual blindness and seeing things for the way they really are. In other words, how can your witness be an instrument of transformation for others?
Some folks say seeing is believing. Perhaps it really is the other way around. Believing is seeing!

Rev. Keith E. Lawder is the President/CEO of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation.