One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 2And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. 4Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ 5And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,* stand up and walk.’ 7And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter and John were going to the temple to pray – notice, in the last chapter we saw that the community prayed together when they were gathered together, but they also remained good and devout Jews, and went to the temple for prayer as well. But on the way to the temple they meet a beggar – someone, family or friends, would bring him each day to the temple gates to beg beside the gate named Beautiful. The man had been lame all his life, had never walked; in a simple society whose workforce consisted mostly of farmers, fishermen, and herders, he had few options, other than to sit by the temple gates and beg. He saw Peter and John going into the temple and he asked them for alms, but Peter looked at him, and saw the man behind the beggar, and said, “Look at me”. The man of course, was expecting a coin. But Peter said a strange thing – I don’t have any money – and yet, the man could not look away, search in the crowd for a better prospect – Peter still holds his gaze. “What I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” Throughout Acts, Peter always speaks of Jesus as the healer, the miracle worker, the one who casts out the demons; Peter never claims “credit” for the miracles. He knows that such things are only done through Christ, through the work of the Spirit. Peter takes the man’s hand and lifts him up, and immediately, legs and ankles and feet that have never walked grow strong and he not only stands, he walks, he leaps, he runs, he praises God! This man has sat outside the temple gates all his life; he has never been inside – only those who were physically whole (perfect) were allowed inside. Imagine his awe, as he walks, gazing at the magnificence of the temple, his overwhelming gratitude to God! Most certainly, he would leap up and praise him!
The people see him, walking and praising God, and they recognize him as the beggar who had sat all his life beside the gates. They are amazed! This man asked for alms, and received healing instead, but he also received another gift – the opportunity to witness! His healing miracle could be used by God, that people might see and believe. It is a wondrous thing to have the opportunity to be a part of the movement of God’s Kingdom!