Curtain #3: The Bigger Picture

This is the concluding segment in the series “Behind the Scenes.” Drawing back Curtain #3, we’ll find what Acts 3:1-10 has in common with the scripture surrounding it and examine possible next steps in the exegesis process.

Are you sick of looking at Acts 3:1-10 yet? Sometimes I sit with a piece of scripture so long that I get restless, ready to move on to something else. But there are times when I don’t want to leave because it feels like it’s become a part of me. Like reading an amazing novel that builds a world with characters you don’t want to leave, coming to the end of your analysis can be bittersweet. Today, we’re going to look at how pieces of scripture sometimes live on in other verses—maybe even throughout the entire Bible—as a unified theme. Let’s go back to the very beginning of Acts…

It is generally agreed that the apostle Luke authored The Acts of the Apostles, and from the start of Chapter 1 he emphasizes the authority of Jesus Christ, as well as Christ’s promise to continue working with the apostles through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 2 actually gives an account of the Holy Spirit resting like “tongues of fire” on them, prompting Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:14-37.

Peter references the Old Testament multiple times during his sermon, and Luke includes the text of those references. Peter quotes the prophet Joel and King David to establish that Jesus is the Messiah, and everyone who calls upon his name will be saved. This is reflected in the healing of the lame man when Peter says to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Throughout his writing of Acts, Luke establishes a major theme:  God provides life-changing power in the name of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

This theme is re-emphasized by Peter in his speech from Solomon’s portico, which immediately follows the healing of the lame man. Once again, he establishes the authority of Jesus who is glorified by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as the fathers of all those who are present. Notice, also, how he contrasts the authority of Christ with the callousness of the people who demanded his crucifixion, issuing a call for them to repent so their sins may be blotted out.

I don’t want to go too much further into Acts or this entry will turn into a dissertation! But, I think you can see how the story of the lame man reflects a few of Luke’s larger themes:  the power and authority of Jesus, the ability of God (through Jesus and the Holy Spirit) to transform lives, and the ability to have our sins erased and our divine relationship restored.

So where does one go from here? Well, you’ve gotten several insights into why Luke may have written Acts in the first place, as he draws a picture of how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit work together. Luke is also clearly trying to illustrate the connections between Holy Scripture (the Old Testament) and the events surrounding Jesus, his crucifixion, and the continuing work of the apostles—which would have been extremely important for his audience at the time of his writing.

With the information you’ve gained from this one small excerpt, you can now read more of Acts with a partial understanding of Luke’s overall themes. You may also want to keep these themes in mind as you read back over Old Testament scripture to look for other connections. And don’t forget that Luke wrote one of the four gospel accounts… wonder if he mentions these themes in The Gospel According To Luke? If so, do the other gospel writers mention the same themes or stories?  The questions go on and on.

Just like scriptural insights and our search for the part we are to play in the bigger picture.

Lord, thank you for the saving power of Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the writings of your apostles and our ability to study them so we may grow in our relationship with you. Clear the eyes of those searching for answers, and open the eyes of those closed to your presence. Amen