Refreshed and Restored (Acts 3:1-21)

Journey with Jesus to ... the Resurrection! (Easter Friday, April 22)
Read Acts 3:1-21 

Thirty-five years ago, I bought a 1956 Chevy. In every church I served since then, that classic Chevy was my primary means of transportation.

Until about 15 years ago. The engine finally gave out, and I didn’t have the money to fix it. So there it sat, deteriorating in my garage, badly in need of restoration. It was not a pretty sight.

In 2011 we celebrated our first Christmas with Matt Wallace, our brand new son-in-law. When it came time for Matt and Kyan to give me my gift, I knew what it was by the way it was wrapped: the handle of a frying pan stuck out of the Christmas paper.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I opened it to find a photograph of a small block Chevy engine taped to the pan. They had given me a new engine for my car! Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, humbled, and yes, a bit teary-eyed by the gift.

After towing my car to California, they later returned it to me with a fully rebuilt and restored engine. It ran better than it ever had before! Thanks to the sacrificial love of Matt and Kyan, my car was refreshed, renewed and restored.

What does this have to do with today’s text? More than you might think. Peter and John are going to the temple to pray. They encounter a beggar near the gate. He’s looking for a handout; instead, he gets a healing.

But here’s where it gets interesting. When Peter explains the healing to the astonished crowd, he tells them that if they repent, they too will receive “times of refreshing,” and that they can look forward to the ultimate “restoration of all things” (19-21).

In other words, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (15-16) proves that someday there will be an ultimate restoration of all things. What my son-in-law did for my car in restoring it to its original condition, Jesus has done for us: his resurrection begins the time of refreshment in advance of the final “restoration of all things.”

You see, the resurrection is not merely proof that Jesus was God. The resurrection is the beginning of new creation. Jesus is the “first fruit” of that new creation. Someday all creation will be made new. Sin, sickness and death will be no more. Until that day, we who follow Jesus are to be living witnesses of the new creation that was inaugurated through Jesus’ resurrection.

It took me awhile to get used to the “new” car I was driving. It was still mine, of course, but it felt as though it didn’t really belong to me. After all, I owed its restored condition and its improved performance entirely to the grace of someone else. It had literally been given a brand new life. I treated the car with a greater degree of care than I did before — and a lot more gratitude — knowing that it represented a tremendous gift of love and sacrifice.

Maybe that’s what it means to truly follow Jesus. We still have our lives, of course, but they don’t really belong to us. After all, the refreshment we have and the restoration we await are both gifts of his grace.

Jesus is glad to give it, of course. But we have special joy in offering our lives to the One who has already given his life for us. Just as the joy of owning a classic Chevy is increased by the grace offered to me, so to, our lives are enriched when they’ve been blessed by God’s refreshing grace.

“Lord, thank you for bringing times of refreshment and renewal into our world. Help me to experience these in my own life, and to share them with everyone I can.”