Often we look at chapter 3 as two separate stories. The first part is about the lame beggar who was healed, and the second is a powerful sermon that Peter preached to the people. But they are very connected. The purpose for the healing passage is two-fold. First, it is to demonstrate early on that this new religion called “the Way” had a huge emphasis on showing love and mercy to those who were in need. It was not purely an intellectual religion like Judaism had become, but it was a religion faith that was directly connected to showing mercy.
The second reason for the healing was to gather another crowd for the disciples to share the gospel message. You see, mercy without the gospel isn’t really mercy, it’s not getting at the greatest need of the person, their need for forgiveness. Peter’s second sermon in this book once again is strong on the law, accusing the people of killing the Author of life. Yet it is strong on the gospel as well, reassuring the people of Jerusalem that Jesus was sent to bring forgiveness to THEM!
Over 2000 years later, the message is the same – we, by our sinfulness, killed the Author of life. Yet the One who died, did so willingly so that WE might be forgiven. Now that’s what I call mercy!