Reader: “I don’t have any silver or gold for you.”
Response: “But I’ll give you what I have.”
Scripture: Acts 3:1-10
Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.
Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.
All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The impact of the resurrection and ascension was spreading. Something more than a spiritual revival was happening. A vibrant and bold movement was underway affecting all levels of society. Such an occurrence had never before transpired. The society and culture were being uprooted. The high were being brought low and the low raised. People were being treated not as a class or category in the society but as individual persons who were part of the whole of society. The class injustice was being rectified by this fulfilled version of Judaism in what came to be called Christianity.
Peter and John went to the Temple in the usual Jewish practice of prayer at set times during the day. (The hours for prayer were 6 AM, 9 AM, 12PM and 3PM. The separation of Judaism and Christianity occurred later. Followers of Jesus were, at this time, still worshiping at the Temple on the Sabbath and celebrating the Resurrection and the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, the first day of the week.) It was common for beggars to situate themselves at places where many people passed by. Such was the case here as Peter and John passed by the well-known daily beggar.
How often have you heard in dealing with panhandlers in our day, “Don’t look them in the eye,” or “avoid direct eye contact.” It may be in Peter’s case that the invalid looked down as he begged. Peter did not follow the “avoid eye contact” advice. He, as we, realized we are dealing with human beings made in the image of God. In other words, “look them in the eyes” which is what he demanded of the crippled man.
Though he expected to receive some money, Peter gave to him something he never imagined, the ability to walk and end his life-long lameness. Peter took him by the right hand, helped him up and God healed him on the spot! The man jumped up and began to walk and leap for joy! He joined Peter and John as they all entered the Temple. The people standing there saw the whole thing and were astounded!
Six weeks earlier, these same two men, Peter and John, were hiding in a room hoping not to be found out as followers of Jesus. Now, filled with the Holy Spirit they are boldly proclaiming the gospel that transforms, the gospel of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, the good news of salvation in Jesus alone. I’m thinking the world in which we all live needs to hear the gospel of salvation, hope, transformation, forgiveness and healing. I have a suspicion that followers of Christ, including you and me, have been too silent, too demure, too pusillanimous (remember this new word from the Lenten devotional!) and too passive in proclaiming the truth. Certainly those who oppose Christianity have no such timidity. Of course our cultures embrace an animosity toward the Christian faith. Like Peter, let us be filled today with the Holy Spirit, look people in the eye and speak the truth. We can play a part in changing the culture like Peter and John.
Bonus: Jesus healing the paralytic from “The Chosen.” (5:38) If you are not familiar with this series you are missing something that is marvelous! Peter and John had seen Jesus do this and in the above pericope, they had the chance to do the same!
Music: “I Will Arise and Go to Jesus” Ruut Sullinen
O God, from whom to be turned is to fall, to whom to be turned is to rise, and with whom to stand is to abide forever; grant us in all our duties your help, in all our perplexities your guidance, in all our dangers your protection, and in all our sorrows your peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. ―Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD, Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, p.19