Lent 2023 Day 13: Wed 8 Mar
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.
Peter and John were Jews. They had not separated from the faith to form their own, because, as far as they were concerned, what they had experienced was still firmly set within the parameters of the faith in which they’d grown up. Jesus went to the Temple for festivals, and so Peter and John, now living some distance from the sea in Jerusalem, went off to the Temple for prayers. I’m sure that their time at prayers was enhanced by their being filled with the Holy Spirit, who allowed them to experience more deeply the wondrous nature of the God they worshipped.
Today they didn’t make it to the Temple. A man they must have all been acquainted with, one of those who formed the gauntlet of beggars and alms-seekers you had to walk through when you visited the Temple, was sitting there. This man turned up every day. He had good friends. It wasn’t his fault that he had to beg – these days the disabled have better opportunities for earning their independence. “Do you have any spare change?” I’m waiting for the first beggar in Ipswich to pull out a card machine for when I tell them I don’t have any cash on me.
Peter didn’t have any money. That was the spur for the Holy Spirit to draw him out. The Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity, but there’s a fluidity in the gospels about him acting on behalf of God the Father and also of God the Son. God’s Holy Spirit enables us to know Jesus intimately, and thus to know Father God. “Go on, Peter, heal him. Release him. Put him back on his feet. Heal him. You did it long ago under my authority– do it again!”
Peter obeys the call. What happened next became the natural, rather than the supernatural, thing to do. Invoking the authority of Jesus, the one Peter had proclaimed as Lord and Messiah, he commanded the man to get up. Words are easy, but extending your hand to his to lift him up is a real act of faith. The man did not get up until Peter helped him. He was not healed until he had started to rise up.
Luke tells us that the healing was instant, but the man had to get up first! What Luke means is that the healing was complete and final. The man still needed to learn about balance, how to move legs to transfer weight, how to walk without overbalancing, but it wasn’t long before he was jumping!
Peter’s few words to the man had caused a sensation. Find out tomorrow how Peter uses this miracle to share Jesus with the people who were out that afternoon.
Did Jesus pass by the beggars on his way to the Temple?
Did he know that man at the gate?
What are the conditions that mainly affect beggars today?
What stops you from speaking under Christ’s authority?
Father God, Peter’s intervention did not come from his own initiative but from the Holy Spirit’s. Teach me how to listen to him, to trust and obey, so that Jesus may be honoured and worshipped, and you be glorified. Amen.
Peter and John went to pray (extended version)