Acts 3: 1 – 16 Peter heals a lame beggar
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame 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 do 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. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
While the man held onto Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them, ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.’
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Peter and John were on their way to afternoon prayers in the temple, when they were hailed by a beggar. This beggar had been ‘lame since birth’. He had friends or family because he was carried every day to the place at the gate called Beautiful so that he could beg.
When the beggar called to them, Peter and John stopped.
“Peter looked straight at him, as did John.”
What was happening in those few seconds? They had been halted by the Holy Spirit. Although it doesn’t say so, I suspect they were praying, “This man? Healing? Now? Okay!”
First, Peter made sure he had the man’s full attention; “Look at us!” he said.
Then he ordered the man to walk.
“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”
At this point, the beggar had to show faith. He had to put his trust in the power of Jesus working through Peter. Perhaps he wavered. At all events, Peter took him by the right hand, and helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. As I read this, I had an image of Peter himself, during Jesus’ earthly ministry, walking on water by faith, and then needing Jesus to take his hand to save him.
“(The beggar) jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”
How wonderful that the beggar’s first thought was to go into the temple to praise God for his healing!
When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
This miraculous healing is dramatic and very public. It’s a sign given to the onlookers to point them towards Jesus.
While the man held onto Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.
A crowd gathered, and Peter was prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak to them.
He makes it clear that this healing wasn’t accomplished by his power or godliness; it was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who had carried it out, in order to glorify his servant Jesus.
He also makes it clear to the crowd where they stand; he tells them very plainly that it was their sin that put Jesus on the cross.
Peter tells them that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and that he and John are witnesses to this.
This is how the healing happened, he declares: “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.”
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This was one of the ‘wonders and signs’ mentioned in yesterday’s passage. The purpose of this healing was to witness to Jesus, to increase the faith of believers and to build up the numbers of the church. From what I have read and experienced, this is often why God heals people.
There are several lessons we can learn from this passage
- The power of God, in the name of Jesus, is still active in the world today.
- Like Peter and John, we need to be open and alert to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Like Peter, we need to obey the Holy Spirit’s commands.
- If we are being prayed for, we need to trust God to provide what we need.
As I think back over my own Christian journey, I am encouraged when I remember occasions when it was clear that God was faithfully providing what I needed spiritually. Now, my wish is to become closer to him, and to be better at listening to him and obeying him.
Thank you that you still work with power among your believers. Help us to show by the love in our lives that we are your faithful people.
In Jesus’ name, Amen