Miracles and Persecution; August 12, 2018

Acts 3:6-8 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

There are many reasons for this miracle to have been recorded. In the first place, it was a notable, public miracle that got the apostles into trouble with the Jewish authorities, triggering persecution. I am reminded of what is called the Kohri Incident in Omura history. About a hundred years after Christianity was proscribed in Japan, a young man in a small Christian village upstream of the Kohri River started operating in the gift of healing, and word quickly got out, much as it did here. As a result, over 200 people were martyred – the vast majority of the small village – leaving behind some notable testimonies to their faith. In places where persecution isn’t a factor, it is important to notice precisely what Peter said and did. Having seen and talked with the risen Jesus, he had absolute assurance of the power of God, and that God could and would use him. He not only spoke boldly, he backed that up with action that would have proved embarrassing if God had not acted. God indeed acted, and the result drew many people to saving faith. (Acts 4:4) It is worth noting, here and throughout Acts, that this is the same Peter who denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Genuine faith is certainly transformative!

Many years ago I learned a catchy little song that is essentially these three verses set to music. It’s a good reminder of what God can and will do, if I will trust Him fully. The closest I’ve come to persecution was when the Baptists refused to appoint me as a missionary because I spoke in tongues, but they weren’t up front about it, and I spent years seeking to meet the false “qualifications” they were insisting on. God used all of that for good in various ways, particularly in terms of my faith, and the fact that since arriving in Omura I haven’t had to deal with their denominational bureaucracy, but there have been some downsides, at least as I have perceived them. At any rate, I haven’t had the level of faith, or results, that Peter demonstrated here. I have said that when Japanese believers realize who they are in Christ, they will transform the world, but the question remains of whether I genuinely realize who I am in Christ. I certainly need to be more like Peter, not bound by my past mistakes but looking fully to Jesus, and knowing that in Him I can do anything He asks of me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I pray for renewed boldness, that I may not draw back for any reason but do and say exactly as You direct, so that Your will may be done fully, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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