Peter and John Heal the Lame Man
On the Day of Pentecost three thousand were baptized in response to the preaching of the apostles. After Pentecost “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:42,43). These miracles were performed by the apostles to confirm the divine source of their teachings. Christ performed many works or signs, wonders and miracles to confirm His identity as the Son of God (John 10:25;37-38; 3:2). The message preached by the apostles was likewise authenticated by miracles. “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Cor. 12:12). “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Heb. 2:3-4).
Today we have the complete or perfect Word of God in the New Testament. The time of miraculous accreditation is no longer necessary (1 Cor. 13:8-13). But in the early days of the church the way of salvation was made known by the apostles’ preaching which was often accompanied by supernatural works.
Shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John went to the Temple to pray. The verb tense of the phrase “were going up” indicates they were in a regular habit of praying at the time of the ninth hour. The Jewish day started at six in the morning. The morning sacrifice would have been at the third hour of the day or 9:00 AM. At the ninth hour of the day (3:00 PM), the priests would perform the evening sacrifice.
Why were they praying at the Temple? The Old Law had been nailed to the cross and the veil of the Temple torn in two at the death of Christ. Yet Christians still needed to pray. There was nothing wrong about maintaining their habits of time and location of prayer.
However, that afternoon their prayer was to be interrupted by a beggar. When one sees a beggar on the road holding up a sign reading “will work for food” or “need help, God bless” there is a plethora of thoughts racing through the brain. What can be done? We do not have the money to help them all. How did they get into this mess?
The beggar was in a hopeless situation. He was over forty years old (4:22). He had been that way all his life. What money was given him would have been all the support he had.
However, he did have a prime location for asking for help. Beggars in Palestine favored three locations: the houses of the rich, main highways, and the temple. At the temple, he managed to get a spot near the gate called “Beautiful”. This would have been a high traffic area. It was also called the Nicanor Gate because a Jew named Nicanor from Alexandria donated the money for its construction. It was 75 feet high and 60 feet wide. Josephus tells us it took twenty men to close it. And he says it was made of Corinthian brass along with plates of silver and gold. He sat there day after day expecting some silver and gold.
This was the lame man’s lucky day. Peter and John passed his way. They required the man to look them in the eyes and play close attention to what they were able to say. It was going to be something more then he could ask for and his undivided attention was required.
The pilot of an airliner calls for his two flight attendants. The situation is grim. He wants to comfort his passengers. He tells the flight attendants to do something spiritual for them. So, they go to the galley and find two empty buckets and take up a collection. In some situations, money is not much help.
Peter told the beggar, “silver and gold I do not have.” This is not necessarily going to keep Peter from helping the man. Gold and silver had limited power. All the gold and silver in the world cannot guarantee a man can gain the ability to walk. And being able to walk would be more value to the man.
Christians with financial resources have an obligation to be generous and share with others in need (1 Tim. 6:10f). Not all Christians have financial resources. But like Peter and John, they do have the power of a relationship with Jesus. The ability for the man to walk lay in the authority and power of Jesus.
Imagine the miracle it took for a man to leap and walk instantaneously after forty years of muscle atrophy and never having learned to walk in the first place. It is said one has to learn to crawl and stand with keeping their balance before they learn to walk. This man never learned to crawl or stand. His muscles instantaneously received enough strength, his balance and coordination of steps was given immediately. After forty years of atrophy, the deteriorated muscles suddenly come alive.
The word “strengthened” comes from a Greek medical term estereothesan – used elsewhere in Greek literature in reference to sockets being reset. This was not like the fake healings of today. This was not a long term progressive healing. This was not done to some unknown lame man. Everyone who had passed through the gate had known of the man’s condition for many years. The Jewish leaders did not deny that a miracle had taken place. They said, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” (Acts 4:16). This man’s healing revealed the power of Jesus working through the apostles.
There was a physical transformation as the man immediately began leaping and walking. Had Peter and John not come his way that day, he would have had to stay at the gate and begged till the day he died. He would have been without the ability to work to help himself. He lived day by day with no hope of a retirement or having any financial plans.
A spiritual transformation is seen in him “praising God.” He did not give John and Peter the credit.
A relational transformation is seen with the healed man holding on to Peter and John and following them. This showed his support and gratitude. Furthermore, he had a change in how he represented himself to the world. He was now an example of God’s grace. He was now giving to others in this way instead of taking from them.
A transformation took place among the multitude. They were amazed and gathered around the apostles and the man. Their interest is growing and focusing on the power of Jesus. The joy of a man shouting praise is contagious.
Peter and John’s plans to pray were changed into an opportunity to teaching the multitude. A crowd that could not deny what they had seen and heard. There is no evangelistic zeal as great as a soul that is glorifying the God of their Salvation.
Change places with the beggar. You are maimed by the consequences of your sins. You are crippled by the abuse of your body with sex, drugs or drinking. Negative attitudes like hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc. have hindered your steps. Moral perversions and broken relationships have put you on the ground. Silver and gold have no power to help. But Jesus can make you whole again.
– Daniel R. Vess