Our True Need | Acts 3:1-26

Our True Need | Acts 3:1-26

As I was thinking about you this week, imagining you sitting in these chairs, I was thinking that we all have a need. Your need is that thing or issue that’s on your mind, and that’s weighing on you but you don’t know how to solve. If we were to each stop and publicly identify our need, we’d be here a while.

    • Some of us would identify money as our need. We need a job, or a raise, or help paying off our student debt, or mortgage, car payment, or medical bills. We would identify our need as financial.
    • Some of us would identify relationship as our need. We’re having marriage problems or family problems. We have a problem with a parent, sibling, or coworker we don’t know how to fix. We need reconciliation or another try or to feel loved. We would identify our need as relational. 
    • Some of us would identify time as our need. We’re just too busy with our schedules and our kid’s sports and activities. We don’t have enough time with our family or to get our job or homework done. If only we had more time, everything would be easier. We would identify our need as time.

I’m sure we would identify other needs—medical, emotional, social. As we open the Scriptures we encounter a God who cares for the needs of his people. Jesus came to preach the gospel, the good news, but also to heal and restore the lame and the blind and set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus cares for our spiritual needs, but also our physical, mental, emotional, social, and economic needs (Matt 6:25-34). We shouldn’t be surprised that once Jesus sends out his disciples on mission, they do the same. 

Peter and John, two of Jesus’ closest disciples, are going to the temple for a 3pm prayer meeting, and as they’re walking into the temple compound they encounter a man who has never walked. He was born lame and has had to depend on the generosity of others his entire life, to be transported to the temple, maybe to get into his bed, eat, and go to the bathroom. His need is obvious, right? But he actually underestimates his need and so do we. 

We underestimate our need. (Acts 3:1-8a)

The man didn’t ask them for healing. He didn’t have a clear perception of his need. Instead, he asks them for money. “If I can just have more money, it will solve all my needs, or at least most of them.” Have you ever told yourself that? This man became so locked into a way of thinking he couldn’t imagine what God might do. We also can become so locked in a way of thinking we can’t imagine what God can do.

I read an article this week that spoke of the difference between the left side of our brain and the right side. Maybe you know this already but creativity and imagination are attributed more to the right side of our brains and order and logic more to the left side of our brains. I think we can get stuck in a leftbrain understanding of our need, the basics, and today I want us to rightbrain imagine what the Scriptures might really say our need is. 

This man thinks he needs silver and gold. I need food and some place to sleep. Very left brain thinking. But Peter and John, rightbrain disciples, look at him and imagine God’s possibilities for him. 

Acts 3:6-8a (NIV) 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk…

Peter performs this amazing miracle and heals this man’s legs. This must be his real need, right? But even when Jesus heals people, it often carries a greater point. When a paralyzed man is lowered through the roof to see him Jesus first says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then he says “take your mat and go home” (Mark 2:9-11). He heals the man to prove he can forgive sins. Forgiveness was his greater need. Now Peter and John heal this man to open the door for them to tell the crowds their greater need.

Only God can satisfy our true need. (Acts 3:8-10)

The lame man thought he needed silver or gold, and once Peter healed him maybe he thought that was what he really needed, but Peter and John know he needs God himself. He needs God to reach down into his life and touch him and that’s what we need. When God does, it changes everything. 

Acts 3:8-10 (NIV) 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

He jumps up and begins telling everyone how good God is! He has encountered the lifegiving power of God. When God meets our needs, let’s tell others. When God keeps providing for you month after month even though the budget is tight, tell others. When God gives you peace in the midst of loss, tell others. When God is there for you at your darkest moment, tell others! We think our need is one thing, money, relationship, time, health, but in reality our need is so much bigger. We need God himself. We each need to experience the living God. But let’s clarify what that means.

How do we need God? (Acts 3:11-26)

It’s one thing to say we need him, but another to explain what that means.

1) We need to experience him. (v11)

Acts 3:11 (NIV) While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.

I want to focus on two words. The people were “astonished” and they came “running.” That word for astonished also means “amazed” or “alarmed.” That’s what happens when we encounter the living God. He’s amazing but alarming, scary. You would think this would have driven away the people from Peter and John, but instead it attracts them to them. The word for “running” describes them flocking together like a flock of birds, or running together like the Chelmsford road race. Instead of running away everyone comes running to because they want to know what happened. They’re attracted to this supernatural display of God’s power. When we’re experiencing God in our lives and church, we should expect that others will be attracted to him. They’ll want to experience God too.

Like the crowd and like the crippled man we too need God. But we don’t come to God so that we can have more money, or better relationships, or more time, or better health. We come to God so we can experience him working through those things. Sometimes God gives us what we think we need. Sometimes he doesn’t give us what we think we need. All the time he wants to give us our actual need, Jesus. God works through the giving or the not giving to give us himself.

A couple years ago Monica and I needed a house. There wasn’t a lot out of options but one day we got together with our realtor and looked at six houses our first day of searching. As we were driving to the very first house I pointed out one on the street, a cape, and told Monica I liked that house. The first house we drove up to happened to be a green cape. We liked it, but had planned to go to see other houses that day. As we looked at them we kept comparing them to that first house. Even though there wasn’t a lot of options, we made an offer below asking price, and later that day our realtor called us to tell us he’d never experienced anything like it but the owners had accepted our offer. When we spoke to the owners they didn’t have a clear reason for moving—no job change or retirement—they had just felt it was time. 

Monica and I hold onto this story as a reminder that God has us exactly where he wants us. He kicked a family out of their house so we could have it! What I thought we needed was a home, but what we really needed was to experience God providing for our needs. Remembering this story has ministered to my soul ever since. Sometimes I ask the Lord, “Lord, is this where you want us?” And he brings this story to mind to remind me this is exactly where he wants us. God giving us the house is no longer just about the house, but about God showing us his goodness and will through the giving of the house.

What’s your story? Maybe it wasn’t a house purchase, but it was money coming in at the last moment to pay your bills, or meeting your loved one, or some other way God has provided for your need. Really, he was providing himself for you in your need. 1) We need to experience him. 

2) We need his conviction. (v12-15)

Peter and John began to explain to the crowd why this man can walk. It’s not their power that has done this, but Jesus’ power working through them. You can imagine the conviction of their sin that begins to roll over them as they hear this message—they just crucified Jesus to death. 

Acts 3:13 (NIV) The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 

Peter identifies the God of their ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—as the same God who chose Jesus. This would be great news—the God of our forefathers is on the move again!—but it’s not because they killed the one God chose.

Acts 3:14-15 (NIV) 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

You killed God’s holy and righteous one. You killed the “author of life!” Imagine how convicting that would be. We need conviction too. We need to become aware of our own sins and for it to grieve our hearts. We’re not guilty for killing the author of life but we can each be responsible for “disowning” the Holy one. 

If you’ve ever seen the movie Silence it’s about two Catholic priests who go into Japan to share Christianity in the midst of severe persecution. They encounter Kichijiro, a man who repeatedly denies his faith but again and again repents and returns. Over the course of the movie you become more and more frustrated with Kichijiro. Why would he do this? Why would he deny Christ and his fellow Christians again and again? But perhaps, in some ways, we’re just like him. We deny Jesus too, but when we’re embarrassed to say his name at work, or when we hold onto lust or greed in our hearts, or when we divide our lives into sacred and secular, giving some things to God and keeping others for ourselves. Just like Kichijiro we need to repent and return, again and again. The priest keeps forgiving and accepting him just like God keeps forgiving and accepting us.

We need Jesus to not only provide for us financially, but to radically transform the way we see money. We need Jesus to build up our relationships, but on him as our foundation. We need Jesus to not give us more time, but to love him and love others with the time we already have. The thing that we think we need is not actually what we need. We need Christ and we need him to transform us from the inside out. 1) We need to experience God. 2) We need his conviction.

3) We need faith in his Son, Jesus. (v16)

Now Peter and John explain how they healed the crippled man. 

Acts 3:16 (NIV) By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Peter and John have faith in Jesus and Jesus gives them the power to heal this man. We need that same kind of faith in Jesus. It says that “the faith that comes through him.” That kind of faith actually comes through Jesus. Jesus gives us the faith we need to have faith in him. That sounds counterintuitive but in order to believe in Jesus you need Jesus to give you belief. 

If you’re here and you don’t believe in Jesus, you don’t trust him yet, or your faith is weak and not really part of your life, you need Jesus. Pray that Jesus would give you faith in him. Pray that Jesus would open up your heart to see your need for him. Pray, “Jesus, I need you to give me faith in you. Amen.” 

The gospel is the good news that Jesus died and rose again so that by faith in him you might know and experience God. How do we need God? 1) We need to experience him. 2) We need his conviction. 3) We need faith in his Son, Jesus.

4) We need his refreshment. (v17-20)

Peter admits they were “ignorant.” They didn’t know, but this doesn’t excuse them. It doesn’t excuse us either. We can live our whole lives doing one thing and ignoring Jesus because “we didn’t know” but that doesn’t make it okay. God uses their mistake to bring salvation.

Acts 3:18 (NIV) But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.

The Messiah came to suffer to pay the penalty for our sins. What should our response be?

Acts 3:19 (NIV) Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

We see here that repentance means to turn your being from sin to God. That doesn’t mean you’ll never sin again (disobey God), but you’re turning your mind, will, and affections to Jesus. Repentance isn’t a one time act, but a lifestyle, a daily act of turning to Jesus. When we repent two things happen:

  1. Our sins are “wiped out.” “…ancient writing was on papyrus and the ink had no acid in it. It therefore did not bite into the papyrus like modern ink, but simply lay on top of it. To erase the writing a man simply wiped it away with a wet sponge.” (NIV Application Commentary Acts) Jesus shed his blood and used it to wipe away our sins. If we repent and trust in Jesus he forgives us completely. 
  1. ….“times of refreshing” come from the Lord. Remember your need? If you need refreshment, if you need longlasting rest and renewal, Jesus has it. He wants to renew your soul. He wants to heal you. 

He wants to deal with those parts of your soul that is anxious about money, or relationships, or time. He wants to deal with those hidden parts that are afraid. We need his refreshment.

5) We need his restoration. (v21-26)

Peter promises that Jesus is going to come back and “restore everything” (v21).  That’s what Abraham and Moses and Samuel and all the prophets believed. Through the Messiah, through Jesus, “all peoples on earth [would] be blessed” (v22-25). Jesus is going to come back and restore the world to the perfect paradise we lost in Eden, only better. There’s going to be perfect peace and harmony and you won’t feel the pain of your unmet needs anymore. Jesus will supply all your needs forever and ever.

Now we’re presented with a choice. We can either believe in Jesus and receive blessing (v26) or we can reject him and be “completely cut off” (v23). Life comes down to a choice. You can choose to pursue your needs, money, relationships, time, health, whatever else, but in the end that will only lead to more and more need until you perish in your need. Or… you can choose to be in relationship with God through Christ Jesus and he will take care of all your needs, spiritual and material. God won’t give you everything you think you want, but he’ll give you everything you actually need, himself.

Only Jesus can satisfy your true need.

When the crippled man looked at Peter and John, Peter says, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (v6) He’s saying, “I can’t give you silver or gold, but I can give you Jesus” and that’s all I have for you too. I can give you Jesus. Do you want him? Maybe you can think of other things you want but what you really need is Jesus. Only Jesus can satisfy your true need.

Pastor Jonathan Romig preached this message at Cornerstone Congregational Church. You can download a PDF copy of this sermon above, which includes endnotes and references, or share it through Apple podcasts or Google Play Music. Read the story of our church here.

Discussion Questions:

Good for small groups, community groups, life groups, Bible studies, Sunday school, or personal and family times of devotion and prayer.

  1. What would you identify as your biggest need right now? What’s taking up your mental energy?
  2. If you were to imagine what God sees as your biggest need, what do you think God would identify? 
  3. Do you believe that God can satisfy your needs? Is it possible to ever feel fully satisfied in this life? 
  4. When you read the story of Peter healing the crippled man (Acts 3:1-10), what do you think was his most pressing physical need and most pressing spiritual need? How does Peter address both? 
  5. What do you think it means to experience God? When was the last time you experienced God? What was it like? 
  6. Do you think those listening to Peter’s message were convicted of their sin, their rebellion against God (Acts 3:11-26)? Why sin is the Holy Spirit convicting you of? 
  7. What does it mean to repent and believe in Jesus? How often should we do this? Is this a one time event or an ongoing lifestyle? 
  8. Do you believe Jesus can forgive you of your sins? What does it mean to be refreshed spiritually? How does that relate to sin and forgiveness? 
  9. What is Jesus ultimately restoring? Read Revelation 21:1-4.
  10. Do you want to repent and believe in Jesus and be part of this? Or do you choose to reject him? Do you agree with this sentence? “Only God through Christ can satisfy our true need.”