Acts chapter 3 is often broken into two parts, and while this can make sense it is important to take them together. The first section, in which Peter and John interact with a lame beggar helps preface their following interaction in the Temple. Keep in mind this section we will now examine takes place soon after the new Church had just experienced an explosion of growth. Thousands of new Believers have experienced the life giving transformation of surrendering themselves to Jesus Christ, and have experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The young Church was alive and growing!
Word has spread throughout Jerusalem and has begun creeping into the surrounding areas of the country. The Jesus who was condemned, hung on a cross, and buried has risen from the dead and is alive! His followers are speaking boldly, and performing miracles and wonders before the people.
It’s with this backdrop that we find Peter and John on their way to the Temple, something they clearly continued to practice as Believing Jews. It was morning time, the 9th hour according the Scripture, when they encountered a lame bigger just outside the Temple at the Beautiful Gate.
A man lame from birth was being carried, whom they had laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.– Acts 3:2-3
It was not uncommon to find people in the same condition as this beggar at the temple gates, or the many pools of water within the city. They were busy public places, high foot traffic areas. In other words, the likelihood of receiving alms was increased for them by positioning themselves in these areas because of their increased exposure to people. Alms is not a word commonly used now, but its meaning is one we all understand. To give alms was to be charitable; the idea behind the word was to exercise compassion to someone in need. For the lame beggar to seek alms from others was to seek charitable compassion from those more fortunate and able than he.
In many ways, this lame beggar perfectly illustrates the condition of every man who doesn’t know Jesus. The Scripture tells us that this man was born lame, that he has spent his entire life existing unable to help himself, forever dependent on the abilities and care of others. Most of us grow out of being dependent on others as we age, but with respect to our spiritual condition our dependence never goes away. As this beggar was physically lame, we are spiritually lame without Jesus. Every person is born a sinner, unable to meet our own spiritual needs. There is nothing we can do to rectify this, no different than the lame beggar’s inability to walk on his own feet for himself. And just like a sinner apart from the saving grace of Jesus, he was stuck outside the fellowship, begging for someone to save him. Someone to have mercy and compassion, delivering hope that would satisfy him. Apart from knowing Jesus we have no hope. There is no grace to experience that can bring restoration between us and God. We are as crippled and helpless as the beggar laid at the temple gate each day.
But then something changed.
This time, the beggar asked for compassion from the right person. This time, he would have an encounter with Jesus through His Apostles. This time, he would receive what he sought in a way that would leave him needing no more.
And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.– Acts 3:4-7
I don’t know about you, but I get shivers down my spine when I read this! The idea of a man standing to his feet for the first time IN HIS LIFE! In an instant, life change takes place. This man was laid at the temple gate expecting to be gifted material things to meet his needs, but here we see Peter go beyond. Not only was this beggar’s physical needs met by the healing of his body, he experienced the life giving mercy and grace of Jesus through the miraculous act of compassion.
Have you experienced healing? Have you experienced restoration with Jesus? Maybe you are still the beggar waiting outside the temple gate, seeking something that you think will meet your needs and satisfy the emptiness in side you. Friend, we have all been there. The difference for me is that I’ve had an encounter with Jesus like the lame beggar. My needs have been met in a way that goes far beyond today. The eternal need of my soul being reconciled to God has been met. And it’s something you can experience to (ask me how!!).
Peter did a miracle by the power of the Holy Spirit, and it changed lives. It impacted not only the beggar, but the people around. What can you do today as a follower of Jesus to make a difference? Sure, you might not perform a physical miracle. But your words and actions might be the miracle someone needs to experience, that brings them into a right relationship with God through Jesus. You have a Peter moment with your name written on it, waiting for you to allow the Spirit of God to lead you. Speak new life, speak healing. Help someone find restoration today.
Stand up, and help others get on their feet too.