There Is No Formula

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 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. 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 recognised 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. 11 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. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 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. 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. 16 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.  (Acts 3:1-16)
When Peter and John healed the lame man at the entrance to the Temple courtyards in Acts 3, the people around them looked for a magic formula behind their healing. Many Christians can do the same thing today. Some highlight the importance of godly character, confidently asserting that nobody will ever see such healings unless they live a life like Peter’s. Others highlight the importance of what we say, pointing out that Peter commanded the man to be healed rather than praying for him, and used the spiritual formula ‘in the name of Jesus’ to effect his healing.

Don’t miss, then, the importance of what Peter says to the crowd after the miracle. He tells them to stop looking at him and John, as if they are anybody special. He tells them to stop examining his character or the words he used to find an explanation for his healing. Peter declares that there is no magic formula at all. It isn’t about us, but about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus, all the way! Peter asks the crowd, “Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? … 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.”

Later on in the book of Acts, we see how much this is true. In Acts 19:13-16, seven sons of Sceva attempt to cast out demons using a brilliantly crafted formula – “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out” – and quickly discover that healing comes through speaking on behalf of Jesus and not through spiritual abracadabras. What matters isn’t what we say, but what Jesus has done, and how much we know Jesus and can speak words on his behalf for him.

The gospel-writers deliberately contrive to stop us from relying on well-worked formulae. If we only had Matthew’s account of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law then we would assume that laying on hands was the key factor in her healing; if we only had Mark’s we would assume it was helping her to her feet; and if we only had Luke’s we would assume it was rebuking her fever! (Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31 & Luke 4:38-39) Again, if we only had Matthew’s account of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus we would assume that the key factor was laying on hands; if we only had Mark’s we would assume it was proclaiming over him that “Your faith has healed you”; and if we only had Luke’s we would assume it was commanding him to “Receive your sight!” (Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52 & Luke 18:35-43). The gospel-writers are teaching us something loud and clear: Don’t place your hope in formulae.

Instead, place your hope in who Jesus is and in who you are in him. You are one of his ambassadors, sent out with a heavenly commission to speak the words of Jesus to anybody where you see need that he can meet through the power of his name. That’s what Peter means by telling that crowd that the lame man has been healed “by faith in the name of Jesus.” Let’s go out with faith in that same name of Jesus ourselves.
1)   We have spent four days this week looking at what the Bible says about miraculous healing. What are the biggest questions that these Bible passages have raised for you? Who are you talking to about your questions?

2)   How much time have you spent talking to Jesus himself about your questions? Why not make some time today to talk to him about what you have been reading? He longs to have this conversation with you.
Lord Jesus, I don’t fully understand this but I know I want this. I want to go out into the world with your power and authority to bring help to people in your name. Please answer my questions as I go out in faith and obedience. Lead me to people who need help and healing and, when I see them, work in power through me for your own glory. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.

If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.

Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.

Join our online service at everyday.online