Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. (Acts 3:6-8)
Peter and John walked to the temple to worship; a lame man leaped and praised his way there. When Peter preached to the astonished crowd, he said, “We are witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. It’s not what we did but what he did that made this man free.” This scene presents the gospel in action just after Jesus ascended.
But the man himself might never have known the truth if Peter and John hadn’t seized the opportunity. They confronted the way things had always been for this man—“lame from birth,” according to Scripture—and they refused to let things continue that way. Jesus’ resurrection made the healing possible, and Peter and John were willing to act out the good news, then preach it.
The gospel, Will Willimon says, is “intrusive news.” It presents “a new set of practices . . . a way of living in the world.” The kingdom Jesus preached, the kingdom we pray will “come on earth, as it is in heaven,” has two components: now and not yet. Too often we focus on the not yet and forget the now even exists. We couldn’t be more wrong. Our message cannot be “pie in the sky in the sweet by and by.” There is “pie in the sky” but “abundant life” means there’s also pie on your plate.
Sometimes I am tempted to talk people into changing their lives, to bury them with words and truths. When that happens, I want to remember that Jesus taught his followers to act, to raise people up, help them to stand, and encourage them to leap their way to the place of worship.