“And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” – from Acts 3:11-21
This passage picks up the narrative of the healing of the lame man through Peter and John as they headed into the temple for prayer. The healing caused quite a commotion as the crowd, amazed and dumbfounded at what had just happened, gathered around Peter and John.
The lame man, whom the Scripture tells us was lame from birth, was a fixture at the temple for he was “laid daily at the gate” to ask for alms of those entering the temple. His instantaneous, miraculous healing astonished the crowd. There was no period of rehabilitation, as one would expect of someone who had never walked in his life; there were no tentative first steps, as one would expect from a toddler. His feet and ankles were “immediately…made strong.” He entered the temple, “walking and leaping and praising God.”
It is in this passage that we see the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as those through whom the Spirit worked point to Christ. Note Peter’s response as the astonished crowd gathers around him and John:
“…why do you wonder at this…why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God…of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus…whom God raised from the dead…has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
Peter, in the power of the Holy Spirit, points to Christ and calls the crowd to repentance and faith in Christ.
Spirit-powered ministry clearly and immediately points away from us and clearly points to Christ. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:14)
Spirit-powered ministry includes he witness of the Scripture, which testifies to Christ. Peter pointed to the fulfillment of that “which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”
Spirit-powered ministry includes the proclamation of the Gospel and a call to repentance: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” (Acts 3:18-21)
So much of what we see in modern ministry directs attention to someone other than Christ; so much of modern ministry points to the messenger, describing them with accolades such as “amazing,” “awesome,” and “powerful.” We point to a sermon or a worship performance (I use that term deliberately) and say that the leader “brought it” or “killed it.” We tell people that they need to come and experience the “anointing.”
Where is Christ in all this praise? Who is getting the glory?
The question we must ask ourselves is this: who gets the glory in our ministries? Are we pointing to Christ and calling people to repentance and faith?
Yes, let us ask God for his Holy Spirit power that we may live for him and be his witnesses, but let us also say with the psalmist, “not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1)
Who is getting the glory?