His Hour

“So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping, and praising God”

Acts 3:8

This man had been lame from birth (Acts 3:2) and he was now forty years old (Acts 4:22). This was his hour in which God would be glorified through him. He had been at the temple gate every day of his adult life enduring this affliction and begging for daily sustenance. Peter, John and even Jesus would have passed him many times before. He could have asked why he had to put up with years of lameness and begging when he could have been healed earlier.

He didn’t think about what might have been or accuse God of being unfair. He had been delivered from his lameness and was now free to rejoice in his new liberty. What a ridiculous sight it would have been if he had returned to his begging clothes and mat to beg again. No longer would he rely on the generosity of others. Now he would be able to work and provide for himself.

We who have received the Lord Jesus Christ have been set free from a much greater affliction, that of sin that binds us under Satan’s power and the inevitable consequence of death. We have no reason to accuse God. It is for this hour that we are here to glorify God and our history has brought us to this hour. Mordecai said to Esther, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Instead of concerning ourselves about what might have been we can walk with Jesus and leap in faith praising God that we are in His time. The hour of our salvation may now be some time in the past and we have experienced many things that have been either pleasant or unpleasant; but through them the Lord has brought us to this hour. All that is passed in our lives has brought us to this hour for God’s glory. We won’t return to the begging mat of sin but we will do what we could not do before – serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

The lame man did not know that his hour to glorify God had come until it came – and neither will we.

When other people recognised this man walking, leaping and praising God as the one who had been lame they were ready to hear Peter proclaim Christ. This unnamed man who endured forty years of lameness became the opportunity for the Gospel to be proclaimed. His hour came. He is not complaining. He is still praising God.

Called to Liberty

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

The liberty that Christians have been given is freedom from the law and all its requirements. The law was given by God through Moses and is a description of at least some aspects of the Divine Nature. It is also therefore a description of our new nature He has given us which can be expressed now and will be fully expressed in the resurrection. The problem the law brings is that it condemns the one who chooses to live by it. It has no power of enablement to abide by it.

In the latter part of this chapter Paul gives a description of the Christian’s two options. He may be ruled by the lust of flesh and reap the character of verses 19-21 or he may yield to the Holy Spirit and reap the character of the fruit of the Spirit given in verses 22 & 23. Knowing the outcome of each we have the opportunity to choose.

If our lives are characterized by the works of the flesh then we conclude that we are under the power of the lusts of the flesh. On the other hand, if our lives are characterised by the fruit of the Spirit then we can be confident that we are walking in the Spirit. This is the same as being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and being in fellowship with Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3, 7) but viewed by a different ‘window’.

Because we are set free from the curse that the law brings there is the possibility that we will neglect or discard our knowledge of the commands of God. The law is itself good and has its purpose to unbelievers (Galatians 3:19-25) but it is still good and has its purpose for Christians. The law no longer condemns the believer because Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law on our behalf. What good then is the law to Christians?

Like the fruit of the Spirit the law is a revelation of the Divine Nature and is therefore also a description of what we are in Jesus Christ and how we shall be in eternity. Yes, the law is a schoolmaster for unbelievers but it is also a safety instructor for Christians.

As a ship comes into harbour needs markers to keep it safe in deep water so as not to run aground so the law is as markers to keep the Christian safe from shipwreck of his faith. So Paul writes, “do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh” (5:13). So the law is not a curse to Christians but a blessing for it shows us the way of safety and warns of dangers.

Liberty in Leaving All

“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:33

This verse is the third reason in this passage that Jesus says prevents one from being His disciple. The first is in verse twenty six where He demands supreme love. Since we are commanded to love our spouse, our parents, our children, other Christians and even our enemies Jesus is surely not saying that we should actually hate them. What He is saying that if we really are a disciple of His our first and greatest love will be easily seen to be Him (cf. Revelation 2:4). An aspect of this love will be to love others as we are often told but it will leave an observer in no doubt that He has the absolute pre-eminence. Anything else is idolatry and rebellion against the first commandment (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 22:37)

The second reason that prevents a person being a disciple of Jesus is that they have other loyalties. Jesus demands supreme loyalty. Anyone who has ambitions of their own has not taken up their “cross.” Taking up one’s cross means to die to one’s own ambitions and will. Not my will but His will is the way of life. It is possible to give the appearance of dying to self without giving loyalty to Jesus. It is cloaked in terms like, “I am doing this for Jesus.” No, you are doing it for the praise of others and the feeling that you are doing good and merit Jesus’ “Well done.” I have heard many testimonies of people who started out this way only to realise later that the Lord was withholding blessing because their motive was wrong.

The third reason why a person may not be a disciple of Jesus is that they are held captive by materialism. The wealth is not the issue but the attachment to it is. Even a relatively poor person can be held captive by material possessions. Jesus came to set the captive free so a disciple is one who is experiencing supreme liberty by not being held captive to temporal possessions or the admiration of others. It is this liberty that makes him free to obey Jesus in any matter. When one knows this liberty in Jesus Christ he will not be held captive to anyone or anything else and is therefore His disciple.

The three excuses for not attending the wedding in the parable preceding this passage (vv 18-20) seem to parallel the three reasons for refusing to be a disciple of Jesus. They all had other priorities that might be considered legitimate and reasonable but they all displaced supreme love and loyalty for Jesus and liberty in Jesus. The things that prevent a person being a disciple may not be evil or wrong in themselves but they become that when they displace Jesus as Lord. We need to be careful that we do not deceive ourselves on any of these points and thereby disqualify ourselves from being a disciple of Jesus. We do want to be profitable servants of his so let us serve with Jesus following His direction and lead and not trying to do something of our choosing for Him.