Why are you so surprised?

beggar's hand

In Acts chapter three Luke opens with Peter and John on their way up to the place of prayer. It is three in the afternoon and they go up they pass a beggar on the street. He is a crippled beggar. He was placed there every day by his friends. He was crippled from his birth and this was his everyday life. No fancy engineering made him a motorized wheel chair. He was hand carried everyday to this spot. It is awesome that he had friends, and that he had friends that would do that for him. Every day he sat there and needed a hand out and as Peter and John approached, this was just an ordinary day, they were just two guys heading up to the Temple, to the place of prayer. He launched into his spiel: “Hey buddy can you spare a dime?” “Hey man could you give a guy a hand up?” “Sir, could I bother you for some change, I’m so hungry?” Peter and John stopped, Peter called to the cripple, “Look at me” he said, and then, in the name of Jesus Christ, he healed the man instead of giving him what he was expecting. Changed the whole course of this man’s life! Of course this caused an uproar in the community, and with the newly healed man clinging to him physically, they entered the Temple gates. The crowd was growing and talking and jabbering and Peter shushed them all and spoke: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?”

 There’s the question

What a powerful question. “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?” I am so surprised to read Peter asking this question. What do you mean why does this surprise us? It’s AWESOME!!!!!! It’s fantastic, nobody did this yesterday, or the day before, but today this guy was healed and it is awesome. And yet, Peter is caught off guard and asks the question. I think Peter is at a place where this is pretty common. I wonder if like John (who wrote the book of John), Luke could say of the disciples,“[they] did many other things a well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Peter is used to this kind of thing. Jesus told them they would do what he did and even greater things than this, and he meant it. (John 14:12) So, to them these greater things were “normal.”

LAST WEEK

21 martyred

Last week 21 “Christians” were killed because of their faith. I do not know, nor do I judge, the truth of their faith, I take it at face value. In those parts of the world the word Christian can be as much a political term as it is a testimony. They were definitely killed it would appear. Facebook was in an uproar. I also posted the names of these men on my own site as means of recognizing and honoring their faith. As I watched all the people that say they themselves are Christians post their posts, some Christ centered most political, I wanted to post Peter’s question. “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?”

Jesus made a statement that told us of things that were to come.

Matthew 24:9-14 (NIV)

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

He also said in

Luke 21:16 (NIV)

16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

These days are unfolding upon us and even escalating around the globe. And it appears that we have been more interested in gaining a gospel of comfort, a gospel of convenience, a gospel of prosperity, rather than a gospel of sacrifice. We all want revival, but we want it on our terms, with more stuff and bigger houses and jobs and wealth. Jesus said the invitation was to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. That’s a hard teaching.

10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 

Many will reject Christ outright. His gospel isn’t comfortable. They will fall away because of the cost, and yet these 21 men stayed faithful until the end. Our lives are temporal upon this earth; it is not our home. We are renters, sent as ambassadors, to share the truth of our King, regardless of the cost to us. He is the Prince of Peace: of Peace the Bible says.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

These 21 sacrifices should not surprise a real Christian; our Lord said it would happen. It should make us sad, reflective, but God help us, it should cause us to consider their sacrifice and get to work. We are so busy fighting over the stupid stuff of life instead of sacrificing for the kingdom that the enemy doesn’t have to do much to thwart “christian” people from their mission.

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

Hebrews 10:38-39 (NIV)

38 And,“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Will you live out your life for the kingdom so that this is the question you ask of the world : “Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

Will you live out your life for the kingdom so that this is the question you ask:

“Men of [the church], why does this surprise you?”

We should be busy enough that the world does this to us as well. What excuse do we have who know no persecution in this country, to be amassing wealth that will not go to heaven, at the expense of the people who could be: but for our invitation?

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