In the past few years I have heard two very different sermons based in Acts 3, where Peter and John go up to the Temple to pray and meet a beggar who is asking for alms. One sermon's emphasis was on God's power, the Spirit or Jesus' name, which can do something special, a miracle. In this sermon Peter and John are equipped with the Spirit and they could help the beggar to rise against the crippling conditions. This type of preaching is so popular in the church that we hear something like this: Jesus is the solution; there is no other name than Jesus. But this kind of preaching is very superficial and misses out important transformation points; for example, in this sermon we don't know how Peter and John could be involved in the process of transforming the beggar or how they themselves were transformed for doing this marvelous work for the beggar.
But today I heard a very different sermon which is full of transformative points in that the preacher talked about Peter's former dysfunctional life and his experience of transformation. He was ready to serve others because he had been there, seeing the same dysfunction in other's life; therefore he challenged the beggar to see beyond his meager conditions. Peter did not give him what the beggar expected to receive. Instead he challenged him to expect more, the real good thing that he can live as a normal person as God wants him to be, who can walk and shake his hands without depending on former habits of "I am no-body."
So here is also a point of transformation with the beggar, who listened to Peter and followed what he was asked to do. He tried to stand up moving his legs and feet. His acting faith made it. He saw a miracle for himself. Otherwise, his miracle is neither because of Peter's saying or power nor Jesus' name. An analogy will be helpful here; even though the sun is always available in the world, a person cannot have benefits of it unless he or she comes out to be exposed to it. That is a person's faith that participates in God's transformative power. Transformation is revealed through faith for faith. Or, transformation involves three parties: God, the one who is transformed, and the one who is willing to accept a challenge for transformation.
If you have transformative insights in biblical studies, consider to submit your works to the Journal of Bible and Human Transformation.
FOR more about transformation and the Bible,
Contribution to Seminarium Blog by Fortress Press
“The Bible and Human Transformation--Part I: The Nature of the Bible;;;; Part II: Jesus' Parables and Human Transformation;;;; Part III: Miracles and Human Transformation,” Seminarium Blog (The Elements of Great Teaching) (by Fortress Press), 2014
Or, see my book, A TRANSFORMATIVE READING OF THE BIBLE.