He Didn’t Heal Everyone: Behold, I Leave You A Work Unfinished

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded in the book of Acts by the physician Luke. More specifically today’s reading begins with the twelfth verse of the third chapter and continues through to the twenty-second verse of the fourth chapter. “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? OR why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murder to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:12-18).

 

            “Repent ye therefore, and be conv erted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follower after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every pone of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:19-26).

 

            “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the high priest, and Caiphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when t hey had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the bood deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under haven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:1-12).

 

            “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorifed God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed” (Acts 4:13-22).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the continuation of events which took place in the city of Jerusalem as the apostles began moving and operating in that for which they had been called and appointed. As you read the words presented before us in the opening verses of the third chapter you will encounter the beginning of what it looked like when the apostles were not only baptized by and filled with the Holy Spirit but also when they began to move and operate in that for which they had been appointed and raised up by the Lord Jesus Christ. We know in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus written by the apostle Matthew the Lord appointed and ordained the twelve disciples to be ambassadors for the kingdom and partners together in ministry. Upon reading the words which are presented here in the tenth chapter you will discover the Lord Jesus calling the twelve unto Himself and appointing them as apostles who would go forth into the world and expand and move forth for the kingdom of heaven. It is in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ we find and encounter the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the appointing and ordaining of the twelve disciples whom the Lord appointed as apostles and then gave them authority to execute the kingdom of God in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for what we find in the third chapter of the book of Acts is the apostles beginning to walk in what they had been ordained and appointed to do in the absence of Jesus yet with the power, the presence and the person of the Holy Spirit. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that if you want to truly understand that which is found in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you must turn your attention back to the four gospel narratives beginning with that which is found in the gospel written by the apostle Matthew. I invite you now to consider the following words found in the four gospels beginning with the final verses of the ninth chapter of this New Testament gospel:

 

            “…And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled,s aying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the princes of the devils. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:33-38).

 

            “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any of the city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:1-15).

 

            “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere” (Luke 9:1-6).

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced it is necessary for us to consider these passages found within the gospel narratives for they call and draw our attention to the appointing and sending forth of the twelve as well as the power and authority that was given unto them. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the disciples and apostles being ordained and appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ as His ambassadors in the midst of the earth. The apostle Matthew clearly speaks of their being ordained and appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ as apostles and how the Lord Jesus had given them power and authority over unclean spirits to cast them out. What’s more is that the apostle Matthew also goes on to write how the Lord Jesus gave them authority and power to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this as it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the twelve apostles and how the Lord not only instructed them to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into the harvest but the Lord Jesus Himself also sent them forth into the midst of the harvest. They had already witnessed and observed the Lord Jesus Christ cleansing the lepers, healing all manner of sickness and disease, casting out unclean spirits, opening blinded eyes, opening deaf ears, and so much more. What the Lord Jesus Christ did on this particular day was invite them to move beyond simply being spectators and observers as those who walked with and followed Him and to be actual and active participants. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this as it serves as the foundation for that which we find in the third chapter of the book of Acts.

 

            There is absolutely no denying nor mistaking what we find in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and what is present in the third chapter of the New Testament book of acts for there is a strong and powerful distinction and contrast that exists between the two. If you read the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord giving the twelve disciples whom He ordained as apostles power and authority against unclean spirits to cast them out. Not only this but the Lord also gave the disciples power and authority to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Additionally you will find the apostle Matthew going to write how Jesus—when He sent forth His twelve apostles—commanded them to go not into the way of the Gentiles, nor into any city of the Samaritans but to go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. What’s more is you will find Jesus commanding them that when they preach declaring “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” they were to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out devils. Oh in all reality I can’t help but view the words which are found in this passage of Scripture in direct alignment with that which is found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the physician Luke. It would be in the fourth chapter of this gospel we find Jesus present in the synagogue of Nazareth after having returned from the wilderness where He was tempted of the devil full of the Holy Spirit. Having returned unto Galilee from the wilderness Jesus would enter into Nazareth and as His custom was would enter into the synagogue on the sabbath day. There in the synagogue Jesus would stand up for to read and when the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given unto Him he would find the place where it was written concerning the anointing of the Spirit of the Lord. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the physician Luke:

 

 

            “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. and all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus, the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:14-27).

 

            It is absolutely unmistakable that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was indeed upon the person of the Lord Jesus and had anointed Him with power and authority within the earth. Jesus would journey through Galilee and Judaea healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease, casting out unclean spirits, opening the eyes of the blind, opening the ears of the deaf, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, causing the lame to rise and walk again, and so much more. The words presented before us in this passage of Scripture are a powerful testament and witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and His being ordained and appointed by the Father to manifest the authority of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the tremendous authority and power which was given unto the person of the Lord Jesus Christ within and upon the earth to perform the desire and will of the Father. What’s more is that while it is true the Spirit of the Lord God was upon Jesus and had anointed Him to preach the gospel to the poor and to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, to cast out unclean spirits, and so much more, it was also true that Jesus would ordain and appoint His twelve apostles as ambassadors and apostles for the kingdom of heaven. In the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find and encounter the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ ordained and appointing the twelve disciples as apostles and sending them forth into the earth as ambassadors of the kingdom and partners together in the ministry. When sending them forth in the midst of the earth Jesus would give them power and authority against unclean spirits to cast them out as well as over all manner of sickness and disease that they might heal it.

 

            What makes this particular truth all the more intriguing when you take the time to truly consider it is when you consider the words and language presented in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In the seventeenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by Matthew we find Jesus taking the apostles Peter, James and John up into a high mountain where He had been transfigured before them. There upon the mountain Jesus’ appearance was transformed as He would be transfigured before their eyes and would appear—at least in part—to be clothed with the glory which He had with the Father since the beginning. Not only this but what we also find in this passage of Scripture is Jesus appearing there atop the mountain talking and speaking with Moses and Elijah. Additionally there would be a voice which would speak from heaven emphatically declaring this to be His beloved Son and instructing them to hear and listen to Him. While in the presence of this transfiguration and glory Simon Peter would speak up and declare that it was good for them to be there and for them to build three tabernacles—one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Eventually, however, the vision and experience would pass and it would only be the disciples Peter, James and John present atop the mountain together with Jesus. As Jesus and these disciples journeyed down from the mountain He instructed them to tell no man the vision or experience until after He had been raised from death to life. It’s worth noting what took place here on this particular day for while Peter, James and John were atop the mountain in the presence of Jesus who was transfigured before them in their presence the other nine disciples were at the base of the mountain in the trenches engaging in warfare. It would be at the base of the mountain the other apostles were facing a father who brought his son unto them that they might cast out the unclean spirit that tormented and oppressed him. Unfortunately, however, the disciples could not cast out the unclean spirit which had so tormented and oppressed this boy and I am sure the father experienced the loss of any hope within his heart and soul.

 

            When, however, Jesus came down from the mountains together with Peter, James and John the father of this young boy came unto Jesus in a powerful and palpable sense of desperation on behalf of his son. This father declared unto Jesus how he had brought his son unto his other nine disciples thinking they could cast him out. The trouble this father faced, however, was that even though he had brought his son unto the other nine disciples they were unable to cast out this unclean spirit. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the fact that the Lord Jesus had already given them power and authority over unclean spirits. We know from the gospel narratives that the twelve apostles did indeed go forth and heal all manner of sickness and disease and I would venture to say they even cast out unclean spirits. We know from the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke that Jesus ordained and appointed other seventy whom He sent forth ahead of Him before His face as ambassadors of the kingdom. These seventy Jesus also gave power and authority against unclean spirits to bind and cast them out. What Luke writes and records within this same chapter is the seventy returning from their endeavors and speaking of how even the devils were subject to them in the power and authority of His name. If the seventy whom Jesus had ordained and appointed returned speaking of everything they had done and how they had indeed cast out unclean spirits then I would dare say the twelve apostles had also cast out unclean spirits. With this being said, however, it’s quite intriguing to read the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for within it we find the disciples being unable to do that for which they had been given power and authority. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words found in the seventeenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:9-21).

 

            I have to admit there is something absolutely remarkable about the words found in the seventeenth chapter of this New Testament gospel for what we find here is a father bringing unto the apostles his son thinking and believing they could cure him and cast the unclean spirit out. In this passage of Scripture we find the apostles encountering something they had perhaps done a number of times after the Lord Jesus had given them power and authority over unclean spirits to cast them out. There is not a doubt in my mind the Lord Jesus Christ had indeed and had in fact given power and authority unto his twelve apostles over and against unclean spirits to cast them out and they did in fact cast them out, however, what we find here on this particular occasion is the apostles being unbale to complete and fulfill that for which they had been called. Present within this passage of Scripture is a desperate father bringing unto the apostles of Jesus his son who was sorely vexed, tormented and oppressed by an unclean spirit hoping, praying, and thinking they could cast it out of him. What is before us in this passage, however, is the disciples being unable to cast out this unclean spirit and their inability to cast the unclean spirit out further fostering the desperation and hopelessness of this father. When Jesus came down from the mountain, however, we find this father coming unto Jesus desperately pleading before Him in His presence on behalf of his son. This father emphatically and boldly declared unto the Lord Jesus that he had brought his son unto his disciples thinking they could cast out the unclean spirit only to find and discover they could not. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for when the disciples asked Jesus privately why they could not cast out the unclean spirit Jesus not only declared unto them because of their unbelief but He also declared unto them how this kind goes out not but by prayer and fasting.

 

            The words and language we find in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is quite intriguing when you take the time to consider it in light of the tenth chapter of the same gospel as well as the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we encounter the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus granting power and authority unto the disciples and ordaining them as apostles who would go before His face. The Lord Jesus would give unto them power and authority over and against unclean spirits to cast them out and there is not a doubt in my mind the disciples would indeed fulfill and carry this out to a certain degree and measure. I am convinced based on Scripture and what is recorded within it that the disciples did indeed and did in fact cast out unclean spirits in the name of Jesus just as the other seventy had done. I firmly believe the disciples—after they had been given power and authority by Jesus to cast out unclean spirits and to heal all manner of sickness and disease—actually went out and did such things. There is not a doubt in my mind the disciples whom Jesus ordained and appointed as apostles did not engage themselves in that for which they had been ordained and appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ. With this being said, however, they would encounter something that was beyond what they had been given power and authority to do—even though the Lord Jesus had in fact given them power and authority over unclean spirits to cast them out. Oh please don’t miss out on how incredibly important this truly is as it has the ability to bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the apostles having been ordained and appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ as His ambassadors and having been given power and authority over and against unclean spirits to cast them out and yet encountering something they were unable to do in and of themselves and their own strength.

 

            Bearing in mind all of this I am absolutely and completely convinced there is something to be said about the disciples being unable to cast out this unclean spirit and Jesus declaring unto them that they were unable to—not only because of their unbelief but also that this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. There is a great need to recognize and pay attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for although the disciples had been given power and authority over and against unclean spirits to cast them out there were those which could not be cast out without and apart from prayer and fasting. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this for although the apostles had been given power and authority over and against unclean spirits to cast them out there were certain which they could not cast out in that power alone but also by prayer and fasting. Essentially what we find in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is a powerful picture of the disciples having been given power and authority against and over unclean spirits to cast them out and yet their learning how prayer and fasting was also needed to cast out certain unclean spirits. There were certain unclean spirits which could not be cast out by and with the power and authority Jesus had given them alone and by itself but also needed to be coupled together with prayer and fasting. There is a great need to recognize and understand this for it helps bring us face to face with what is present in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. What we find in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is an incredibly powerful picture of Peter and John beginning to exercise the power and authority they had been given by the Lord Jesus Christ as well as walking in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth of these two apostles beginning to walk—not only in the power and authority the Lord Jesus had given them but also walking in the power which had come upon them on the day of Pentecost. If you stop to think about it—at this time not only had the apostles been given power and authority over unclean spirits to cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness but they had also received the promise of the Father which was the person of the Holy Spirit. At this particular juncture the apostles themselves not only walked in the power and authority given unto them by Jesus when He ordained and appointed them as apostles but they also began walking in the power which had been given unto them by and according to the presence of the Holy Spirit within their lives. Oh there was something dramatically different about what is present here in the third chapter for the events which took place did so after the day of Pentecost and after the apostles Peter and John were among those who were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter and John were among the one-hundred and twenty which were present in the upper room when there appeared unto them a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind which filled the whole place where they were gathered together. In addition to this sound of a mighty rushing wind there would also appear cloven tongues of fire resting upon each of them as the Spirit gave them utterance to speak in other tongues. Moreover, it would be on this particular day all those from the nations and lands round about Jerusalem and Judaea would hear the wonderful works of God being spoken in their language by the mouth of the apostles and the rest of the one-hundred and twenty which were present in the upper room.

 

            Building upon this particular truth it is absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to the words which our Lord had spoken, commanded and instructed the apostles prior to His departure from this earth and His ascension unto the right hand of the Father. In order to understand what took place on the day of Pentecost and in order to understand what took place on this day when Peter and John went up to the Temple and encountered this man who had been lame since birth we must needs recognize and acknowledge the instruction and commands He gave unto them prior to His departure. I am absolutely convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it is absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to the words which our Lord Jesus spoke unto His apostles prior to His departure. There was specific instruction and there were specific commands the Lord taught and spoke unto His disciples and we must needs recognize and understand this if we wish to understand what is present in the third chapter of the book of Acts—and not only what is found in the third chapter of the book of Acts but also what is found throughout the entire book in and of itself. There is not a doubt in my mind that we have a great need to understand the instruction of the Lord Jesus given unto the disciples prior to His departure, for without and apart from it that which is present in this chapter as well as the chapters which come thereafter does not make a whole lot of sense. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by John Mark, the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by Luke and the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).

 

            “Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:14-20).

 

            “…And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concderning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:44-53).

 

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, behing assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, I tis not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).

 

            It is absolutely astounding to read and consider the words which are found within each of these passages for prior to the departure of Jesus from this earth and subsequent return unto His Father who was in heaven we find Him giving instruction unto His disciples concerning the days which were to come. Jesus would indeed depart from this earth and would return unto His Father who was in heaven and yet before He did so He would raise up His twelve apostles and those who walked with and followed Him at that time as His ambassadors in the earth in the days to come. Jesus would indeed depart from this earth and yet He would leave the apostles and His followers behind in the earth as ambassadors for the kingdom of heaven. Oh that we would recognize and understand this incredibly powerful truth for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that the apostles and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ would be left in the earth to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. After Jesus would ascend unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven He would in fact send the person and promise of the Holy Spirit unto His apostles and followers after giving them instruction to remain, abide and tarry in the city of Jerusalem. The apostles and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were instructed and commanded not to depart from the city of Jerusalem but to remain and abide within it until they be endowed with power from on high. Of course we know that after Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father from the mount called Olivet and after the two men who were clothed in white apparel had spoken unto all those gathered together at the mount called Olivet concerning Jesus departure and coming again they would return unto the city of Jerusalem and would gather together in one accord and in one place in prayer.

 

            If there is one thing I so absolutely love about what is found in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it’s that the day of Pentecost and the events which surrounded it had already come and gone. The Lord Jesus Christ had indeed fulfilled and kept that which He promised to do as He had sent the promise and person of the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the Lord Jesus Christ did indeed send the person and promise of the Holy Spirit and all those who were present in the upper room would not only be filled with the Holy Spirit but would also be witnesses for Him as they would speak with other tongues. With this being said it is absolutely necessary to journey to the third chapter of this same New Testament book for what we find in the third chapter is an incredibly powerful picture of the apostles beginning to walk in that for which they had been ordained and appointed. We know the Lord Jesus had given them power and authority over unclean spirits to cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness and disease while He was still present with them and yet what we find in the third chapter is the apostles beginning to walk in that same calling and that same authority in the absence of Jesus. What makes the events in the third chapter so incredibly intriguing and captivating when you take the time to consider it is when you read how the apostles had already been baptized and infilled with the Holy Spirit. By the time we come to the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts—not only do we find the apostles having been given power and authority by the Lord Jesus over and against unclean spirits to cast them out, but we also find them being baptized by and filled with the Holy Spirit. Not only had they been given authority and power to heal all manner of sickness and disease but they had also been baptized with the Holy Spirit and with power.

 

            The more I read the words found in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the power and authority Jesus had given unto His apostles while He was yet still with them and its union with the baptism of the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit. What’s more is I can’t help but read the words found in the third chapter and see it not only as a picture of healing which would take place in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but also the boldness which was present within the apostles Peter and John. What’s more is that it is in the third and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we encounter Peter and John walking in the authority and power they had been given by the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit which had been bestowed upon them on the day of Pentecost. If you think about it the apostles had not only been given power and authority by the Lord Jesus Christ over and against unclean spirits and all manner of sickness and disease while He was still with them but they were also baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The events which begin to take place in the third chapter on are more than simply the apostles walking in the power and authority they had been given while Jesus was still present among them but their walking in the power that was given unto them by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was very clear and specific when He declared unto them that they ought to tarry in the city of Jerusalem and wait until they be endowed with power from on high. Although it was indeed true they had been given power and authority when Jesus ordained and appointed them as apostles and sent them forth into the earth they would also receive power from on high when the Lord Jesus sent the promise of the Holy Spirit unto them. It would be on the day of Pentecost the apostles and all those present in the upper room would experience the arrival and manifestation of the Holy Spirit and would not only be baptized by the Holy Spirit but would also receive power.

 

            POWER GIVEN BY THE LORD JESUS WHILE HE WAS YET STILL WITH THEM! POWER BESTOWED UPON THEM BY THE SPIRIT UPON HIS ARRIVAL! Oh there is something absolutely incredible about what we find in the third and fourth chapters of the book of Acts for shortly after the apostles and all those received the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit and were not only baptized but also endowed with power from on high Peter and John would go up into the Temple at the hour of prayer being the ninth hour. It would be while they were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer they would encounter a man who was lame from his mother’s womb. This man was continually carried by others—much like the one was carried whom four men let down through the roof in the house where the Lord Jesus was present—and laid daily at the gate of the Temple which was called Beautiful. Time and time again this man would be brought unto the gate of the Temple where he would be forced to ask and beg for alms of those who would enter into the Temple to worship the Lord. Imagine going up to the Temple at the hour of prayer and encountering one who had been lame from birth who was begging alms. Imagine going up to the house of the Lord at the hour of prayer only to find one begging for alms at the gate of the house of the Lord. Here at the entrance of the Temple of the Lord would be one who could not physically enter into the Temple and was forced to abide without the Temple begging for alms.

 

            CUT OFF FROM THE TEMPLE BEGGING ALMS! SITTING AT A PLACE CALLED BEAUTIFUL AND YET BEGGING FOR ALMS! SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR AWAY! If there is one thing I absolutely love about the words found in the third and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts it is not only the apostles Peter and John beginning to step and walk in the power and authority given them by the Lord Jesus Christ but also their walking in the power which was bestowed upon them from the Holy Spirit. In the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus giving them power over unclean spirits to cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness and disease and in the second chapter of the book of Acts we find them being endowed with power from on high. I previously wrote about Elisha asking Elijah for a double portion of the spirit that was upon him and how Elijah declared unto his servant he had asked a hard thing. Despite the difficulty surrounding what Elisha had asked the prophet Elijah would declare unto him that if he saw him when he was taken from him and taken into heaven he would receive what he asked for. Essentially that which the prophet Elijah declared unto Elisha was that if he bore witness to his ascension and his being caught up unto heaven by the living God he would indeed receive that which his heart and soul desired. The narrative goes on to reveal how Elisha would indeed behold Elijah as he was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind in a chariot of fire led and drawn by horses of fire. Once the entire even was over Elisha stooped down to pick up the mantle which had fallen from Elijah when he was taken up—a mantle which Elijah had previously cast upon Elisha at the time he called him to walk with and follow him. Now what we find is Elisha picking up the mantle which was left behind by Elijah after he was in fact captured and taken up into heaven by the living and eternal God.

 

            With this being said it’s actually quite unique to read the words found in this portion of Scripture for it’s almost as if the apostles received a double portion of the Spirit that was upon the Lord Jesus. This isn’t to say that they were greater than Jesus by any means or stretch of the imagination but rather that they would be twice endowed with power and authority. It would be Jesus Himself who would declare unto the apostles that they would do greater works than He because He ascended unto the right hand of his Father who was in heaven. While Jesus was still present with them He would give them power and authority over unclean spirits to cast them out as well as power and authority over all manner of sickness and disease to heal it. On the day of Pentecost the apostles would receive something entirely and altogether different from that encounter with the Lord Jesus for on the day of Pentecost they would receive the Holy Spirit and would be endowed with power from on high. There would be an initial giving of power and authority from the Lord Jesus while He was yet still with them and there would be a second endowment or installment of power and authority that was given unto them. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we come to the third chapter of the book of Acts we find the apostles not only walking in the power and authority which had been given unto them by the Lord Jesus while He was still with them but we also find them walking in the authority and power which had been given unto them when they received the Holy Spirit. Oh how absolutely remarkable and incredible it truly is to think about and consider this for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that within the third chapter we begin seeing the apostles walking in and exercising the power and authority given unto them by the Holy Spirit.

 

            As the apostles Peter and John encountered this man at the gate called Beautiful at the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem they heard this man ask of them alms. Undoubtedly this man had been used to asking alms and begging outside the Temple and perhaps receiving in small measure what he asked for but most likely largely ignored. I can’t help but think about the fact that this man perhaps spent a considerable amount of time sitting at the gate called Beautiful outside the Temple of the LORD asking alms of worshippers—those who were going up to the Temple with their offerings to present to the Lord and those who perhaps were bringing their tithes and offerings unto the LORD. Imagine what it was like for this man to be at the entrance of the Temple knowing men and women were going up to the Temple to worship the LORD thinking that surely men and women who were in a posture of worship before the LORD would be more willing to give him alms. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many “worshippers” went up to the Temple of the LORD in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and although they were perhaps in a posture of “worship” they completely and utterly ignored this man. I can’t help but believe within my heart there were countless men and women who went up to the Temple of the LORD with their tithes and offerings in hand and completely unwilling to provide alms for this man. There is not a doubt in my mind this man was largely ignored by many in the sense that there might very well have been very few who actually gave him alms. I mention the fact that this man might very well have been largely ignored by many because when he was healed of his infirmity those who saw him in the Temple worshipping and praising God with the apostles Peter and John as he leapt for joy in the presence of them all there were those who recognized him as being the man who sat at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful.

 

            In all reality it is truly astonishing to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and to consider the fact that although this man might very well have been ignored whilst he sat at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful he was impossible to ignore once he was healed. This actually brings me face to face with something incredibly unique and powerful—namely how many men and women have been and continued to be ignored in their state of helplessness, in their state of poverty, in their state of desperation, in their state of trouble, in their state of infirmity and illness, and in their state of simply begging help and compassion of others. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women among us within our culture and within the streets and street corners of our cities are largely ignored by countless men and women who profess themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder what would and could happen if men and women who were endowed with power from on high and who were truly filled with the Holy Spirit began taking notice of such individuals and began ministering among them. Oh please note that I am very much aware of the fact there are a number of ministries that are committed and devoted to the ministry of the homeless in our society as well as to the orphans and the widows. I am fully aware that there are ministries which are very much engaged in ministering unto “the least of these” and that they are doing a tremendous amount of good in our society.

 

With that being said, however, I am absolutely and convinced it’s not enough for “ministries” in and of themselves to be engaged in the work unto and among “the least of these.” I firmly believe with everything inside of me that there is a great need for men and women who profess themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to begin walking and operating in the endowment of the power of the Holy Spirit from on high and actively engage themselves in the ministry of “the least of these among us.” Keeping this in mind I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to consider the words which James the brother of Jesus wrote in the second chapter of the epistle which is written and recorded in the New Testament. It is here in this chapter where James not only writes concerning demonstrating our faith by works but also rebuking partiality and favoritism in the hearts and minds of those who profess themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. OH I absolutely love how the apostles Peter and John were going up to the Temple at the hour of prayer to seek the Father as Jesus had taught them and on this particular day they would be used of the Spirit to bring healing to a man who had suffered from an infirmity since birth. These apostles had already witnessed Jesus giving sight to a man who had been blind from birth and they had already witnessed Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethesda who had an infirmity for thirty and eight years. How absolutely incredible it is to think and consider the first miracle they would perform after being endowed with the power of the Spirit from on high—at least that which is recorded in the book of Acts—is healing a man in Jesus’ name who had been lame from his mother’s womb. The very first miracle recorded in the New Testament book of Acts was no small miracle for in the name of Jesus of Nazareth whom the Jews crucified and who the Holy Spirit had raised from death to life this man who had been lame from birth was healed. It is considering this I would like to invite you to read the following words found in the New Testament epistle written by James the half-brother of Jesus concerning faith without works being dead and the sin of partiality:

 

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then parital in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath. Not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy: and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:1-13).

 

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and once of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou belevest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when he had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely incredible to witness the apostles Peter and John not only walking in the power and authority given them by the Lord Jesus while He was still present among them in the earth but also walking in the power of the Holy Spirit after having been endowed with power from on high. It is absolutely incredible to consider this truth for within it we find the apostles moving and operating in what might very well be considered a double portion of power and authority. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the first recorded miracle performed in the absence of Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the healing of a man who was lame from birth. Not only was this man who was lame from birth healed but he also entered into the Temple worshipping and praising God as he leapt for joy in the company presence of them all. Oh pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible it is for the Temple of the Lord to actually be transformed into a place of worship as this man who had not only been lame from birth but was also healed in the name of Jesus of Nazareth was healed in that instant. This man was regularly placed outside the Temple at the gate called Beautiful and it wasn’t in the Temple this man was healed but rather it was outside the Temple at the gate—at that place which countless men and women had passed by on a daily basis. What’s more is imagine how many times this man had been placed at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful and how many times Jesus and the disciples might have passed by this man. If this man was lame from birth and was regularly placed outside the Temple at the gate called Beautiful then is it possible that Jesus and the disciples passed by this man on more than one occasion when walking to the Temple? Is it possible that even though Jesus healed countless men and women during those three and a half years of public ministry He didn’t heal everyone?

 

HE DIDN’T HEAL EVERYONE! THERE’S STILL A WORK TO BE DONE! THERE’S STILL A WORK LEFT TO ACCOMPLISH! Oh I sit here today thinking about this man who was lame from birth and how he was regularly laid at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful and how it is very possible the Lord Jesus and His disciples passed by this man as they entered into the Temple. If there is one thing this passage reveals it’s that even after the three and a half years of public ministry performed and wrought by Jesus and even after Jesus had healed countless men and women of the infirmities, diseases and sicknesses that plagued their bodies there were still many more who needed healing. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that although Jesus had indeed healed so many during those three and a half years there were still a number of men and women who desperately needed healing. It’s almost as if Jesus left a work unfinished and undone when He departed from this earth and returned unto the Father for the apostles and His followers whom He left behind would still engage in the same works He had done. Think about it—if what Jesus said was true and they would do greater works than those which He did then that means there would have to be a work that still needed to be done while they were present upon the earth. If Jesus had indeed declared unto them greater works than these would they do because He went unto His Father then I am absolutely convinced that there was a great work left undone even after He departed from the earth and ascended unto the right hand of the Father.

 

We know that Jesus knew that His time and hour had come and that He had fulfilled everything the living God and Father had ordained and appointed Him to do, however, that did not mean that He healed absolutely everyone in Judaea, in Jerusalem and in Galilee. In fact I would dare say that despite all those whom Jesus did heal during those three and a half years there were countless others who received no healing from Him and would not receive healing until after His departure and after the arrival of the Holy Spirit. I am absolutely convinced there was a work left undone in the midst of Judaea, Galilee, Samaria, Jerusalem and the uttermost parts of the earth which Jesus left undone for His apostles and followers. BEHOLD, I LEAVE YOU A WORK UNFINISHED AND A WORK NOT YET STARTED! It is absolutely necessary that we understand this two-fold assignment given by Jesus unto His apostles and followers for when He departed from this world unto the Father and gave unto them the promise of the Holy Spirit there would be a reason and a purpose for the giving of the Holy Spirit. I am absolutely convinced the purpose of the Holy Spirit was not merely that Jesus might dwell within His followers and that He might come again unto them but also that they might be endowed with power from on high to continue a work that had been left unfinished as well as begin a work which hadn’t yet been started. This work not yet started was that of the ministry of the Holy Spirit unto and among the Gentiles which would begin at a later time. If there is one thing I find myself coming face to face with when reading the words found in this passage is that when Jesus departed from the Father He promised the person of the Holy Spirit for He knew there was not only a work that had been left unfinished by Him as well as a work that was yet to be started. It would be His apostles, his followers and those who would believe on His name in the days, weeks, months and years after His ascension and the arrival of the Holy Spirit who would continue and carry out the work which He began and left unfinished as well as being a work which He hadn’t started while present among us.

 

I can’t help but encounter the awesome and incredible truth surrounding this work left unfinished and this work not yet begun for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit would be needed for both. What we witnessed in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is an incredibly powerful picture of the continuation of a ministry and work that was begun by the Lord Jesus Christ while He was upon the earth—even a work that was executed by the apostles themselves—and yet which was left unfinished. The healing of this man who was lame from birth presents us with the tremendous and powerful picture of this incredible work which still lay before the apostles and followers of Jesus after He had ascended unto the right hand of the Father. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that there is a work before us which has been left unfinished for as long as time still carries on there will be a work left unfinished. What’s more is that I am convinced that before each and every one of us is a work that hasn’t yet started or begun which we have been called to do. The single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to engage ourselves in that work which was left unfinished and requires a continuation and carrying out as well as engaging ourselves in that work which hasn’t yet begun and is to be carried out by us. Oh that we would commit and devote ourselves to recognizing and understanding each of these facets of the work which is before us and that we would fully commit ourselves to the work left unfinished and the work yet to be started. Let us this day in the power of the Holy Spirit commit ourselves to the work left unfinished before us as well as the work which has yet to be started which we have been called to begin.

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