One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
The book of Acts is fully titled "Acts of the Apostles." Their acts are sparked by the empowerment of Christ and the Holy Spirit in their lives. In the third chapter the author Luke notes a beggar is brought to the temple gate to elicit charity from other Jews entering the temple for prayer. The man born with the physical disability probably had some reasonable success begging here for a couple of reasons. He was brought there daily, additionally, people of faith are known for their charity, and probably more so at the hour of worship. It is also important to note that he was surely ignored by many due to his daily presence and repetitious actions. The passage points not only to the great transformation of the beggar but to the transformation of Peter and John, as well as the explosive growth of the early church. The disciples, unsure of Christ and his mission during his life, are now eye witnesses to his resurrection. And Peter, who had just denied knowing Jesus, is now speaking boldly and healing in the name of Christ.
The beggar, expecting some money when eye contact is made, was certainly initially disappointed by Peter's words "Silver or gold I do not have." Readers might expect continued focus on the material generosity and sacrifice of Christians. The previous chapter highlighted that Christians were selling their goods for anybody in need. But Peter has so much more to offer him, and his offering is a physical and spiritual transformation that can only come from the King of Kings. It wholly speaks to the authority of Christ and the necessity of testifying to his transformative power. What good can believers and the church do if they have money to give, yet are not equipped with the Holy Spirit and neither have Christ to offer?
Peter commands the beggar to walk, and he gets up and goes into the temple praising God. We too must walk with our Savior and look to him for deliverance and renewal. Charles Wesley, a Methodist hymn writer, says it well in "And Can It Be That I Should Gain?" testifying in song, "My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee."
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