Acts 3 – The Neil Armstrong of Miraculous Healing

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Today’s PassageActs 3

I’m a little on the short side. But when I was far shorter than I am now, probably only four or five years old, my mom taught me a song that told the story of today’s chapter from Acts:

Peter and John went to pray.
They met a lame man on the way.
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
And this is what Peter did say:

“Silver and gold have I none,
But such as I have give I thee,
In the name of Jesus Christ
Of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

He went walking and leaping and praising God,
Walking and leaping and praising God.
“In the name of Jesus Christ
Of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

As far as I can tell, my mom was only familiar with the second two stanzas, and as a result those were the only ones she taught me; I only discovered the first stanza right now through googling. But because we now live in a miraculous age of technology, you can hear the song for yourself. This rendition performed by Jack Marti was the only one I could find that doesn’t scream “children’s song” with every note.

At any rate, the event marks the disciples’ first recorded miracle of healing after Jesus’ resurrection. As you can see from the song, Peter is the one who does the healing, but as Peter himself points out after the event, there is a very real sense in which Peter is not the one who does the healing.

When I heard the song, on some level I can remember understanding that even though Jesus was not technically a character in the encounter, it was a song about Jesus. Even at five years old, I somehow had a grip on what it meant to do something in another person’s name. The miracle was in the vein of the miracles Jesus himself had done. It belonged to him, and Peter was just serving him when he performed it. Properly speaking, Jesus was responsible for it.

The deed draws a crowd, and lest people get the wrong impression, Peter sets the record straight about who’s really at work here. In his message to those gathered at the temple, he refers to Jesus as “the Prince of life” (15), and I noticed that my NASB’s margin notes provided an alternate translation: author of life. What word could sit comfortably in the space of both “prince” and “author?” Might it be archon?

Close. It’s ἀρχηγός, archegos.

Archegos and archon come from the same root, arch-, meaning “rule” or “primacy,” from which we get such English words as “monarchy” (rule by one) or “architect” (primary craftsman). Archegos, however, combines the root with the Greek word for “to lead,” agó. The archegos is the first to explore new frontiers, the first in the fight, and the first in the victory parade. The translation “author” seems misleading; the archegos isn’t a writer or creator, but more like the founder of a movement, a trailblazer who starts something new.

And that’s Jesus Christ. He sparked a new movement that, as we begin the book of Acts, will quickly catch like wildfire and spread further than anyone might have imagined. As the archegos specifically of life, Jesus is the agent of creation (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16), there at the beginning of the universe, bringing every creature to life. He possesses life in himself, and he leads others into that life. Life is so essential to his nature that he was able to come back even from death, and once again, he invites us to join the movement, the war against death, and follow him into new life. He’s the first, the head, the Number One Gun.

He’s the Prince of Life, and it wasn’t Peter leading the charge against the infirmity in the crippled man’s legs, raising the dead things in his life. It was Jesus.

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