Acts 3:1-10 3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gatecalled Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 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.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized 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.
As Peter and John were walking up to the temple they encounter this man and they stop. It’s interesting here that they stop. We are not sure why. On the one hand they were on their way and really couldn’t be bothered to stop. One the other hand, they are full of the Holy Spirit and therefore they are looking for opportunities to exercise their power in Christ – to bring glory to Him. So they simply stop and get the man’s attention. The man was probably used to not being looked in the eye. He gave some attention, but didn’t really look at Peter, hence Peter’s request to “look at us.”
The man looked at them because he was expecting to get something from them – what? He was interested in money (silver or gold), anything that would benefit him. Peter declares that he has something greater than that which the man needs – that is the gift of healing. Peter immediately heals the man and he gets up. He doesn’t just walk or run, but he starting jumping and praising God. Further, those who recognized him as the one that was handicapped were “filled with wonder and amazement.”
This healing is the first example of a healing by a disciple since the coming of the Holy Spirit. The significance of the story cannot be overlooked and overstated. Like with all of the Biblical narratives we can find meaning for our understanding of the Gospel.
The power by which Peter healed was no his own, but it came in the name of Jesus Christ. So our understanding of the meaning of the story is centered on the reality of Jesus in this story. Even though He’s not physically present, His power and majesty is all over this story.
Stop and smell the roses . . . you probably have heard that a lot. Slow down – why? Sometimes we move so quickly we don’t notice things around us. Often the things we miss are insignificant, but often they can be significant. This is the situation with the handicapped man here in the story of Acts 3. His life has become such routine that he misses what is around him. Granted, in his situation this routine is not a boring routine, but a sad routine. He doesn’t expect to see anything new in his normal sad routine. He is used to being carried out to the gate, being barely noticed, and hoping to be given something. He was no more expecting a miracle in his life than maybe we are – drudgery of everyday life.
Peter and John approached this man, they had power in the name of Christ, and he didn’t even look up. The story could have ended right here – with missing opportunity and blessings because he didn’t even look up to see the power of Christ. Luckily, Peter and John knew that this guy needed something and that only they could provide it for him. They wanted to give him a blessing more than he even expected a blessing.
We are guilty of this all the time. We walk past the blessings of God every day without even noticing them. God’s blessings come in many forms – people, places, things, etc; if we don’t get used to looking for them – they will pass us by. I like to call it the “divine eye.” What I means is that you need to develop a keen eye for recognizing God’s blessing in your life. Our lives are surrounded by God’s blessings, but we have a problem. Instead of a “divine eye” we have an eye trained on self-indulgence. We define blessing by what we can acquire or what we have.
God cries out all the time “look at me – I have something for you if you will just look in my direction.” If we have our own plans, imagine what we can miss. Luckily Peter and John were persistent. They knew they had something for this man that even he did not know about.
Let’s make sure we develop a habit of seeing God and recognizing His blessings. Let’s also pray that we have others in our life that are willing to cry out and let us know that God has something for us.
Expectations are often a problem. Others expect something from us and we don’t come through for them. It’s not that we forget or just try to let them down –it’s just that their expectations for us were unrealistic or not communicated. Make no mistake about it, we do the same to others. We have unrealistic expectations of others and expectations can get in the way of our relationship with others.
In this passage the man does not really have high expectations of Peter, John, or anyone else. The man asked Peter and John for something, but we get the impression that when we asked he didn’t even look up and catch their eye. Peter and John had to yell and him and say “look at us!” Speaking of expectations, this guy’s expectations were very low. What we he expecting; maybe the equivalent of a couple of pennies – something small just to get him by?
Once he was yelled at he perked up a bit didn’t he? He thought he was going to “get something from them.” This was looking promising for him – this could be a good day! Peter and John sensed his excitement and knew what he was hoping for - some money. This was obvious – this was the expectation. What is interesting, now that we know the story, is how low the expectations were given what Peter and John were capable of giving. He was looking for something based off of his expectations. He expected A, but all the way down to Z was available to him. His expectations were low.
Peter and John blow away his expectations in the “name of Jesus” – this is the key. If they were coming in their own name, they couldn’t give anything but a little bit of money! But they come in the strong name of Jesus Christ through which anything is possible! They didn’t just offer him money; they offered him healing through Jesus Christ. They blew away his expectations of what a human could offer.
Many of us undersell what God wants to do in our lives – the healing that He can do – because we have low expectations. We barely even give God a glance because we don’t think that He can do much of anything for us. But what we forget is the power that comes in the name of Jesus Christ. Through the power of Jesus God can accomplish anything that He wishes to. He can answer prayer, help us through temptations, and even heal if that is in His will.
We, like this poor beggar, need to remember how much is possible in the name of Christ. We need to raise our expectations for God’s power.
As we wrap up, let’s look at the responses to the power of Christ. The passage says that the man didn’t just get up and walk away – that was just the beginning. He then went into the temple walking and jumping and praising God. Can you imagine this guy jumping around like a little kid? People probably thought that it was absolutely bizarre. It would have been weird enough for a regular grown man to be jumping up and down, but this guy? People in the temple recognized him and were probably shocked! J
His response to God exceeding his expectations was one of enthusiasm and excitement. Wouldn’t it be great if we, as adults, could find it in our bodies to be enthusiastic and excited about something – let alone God? How do we respond to God? First, we need to believe He can do things through the power of Jesus name and second; we need to recognize what He does in the power of Jesus name. We need to develop that divine eye I mentioned earlier.
Now the responses in this story are not limited to the man – there are also those around that respond to the great work of God. Those who knew that man it says were filled with wonder and amazement at what they had seen. This is the secondary result of raising our expectations and seeing God do great things in the power of Jesus’ name – when people see God work they are amazed and want to raise their own expectations to see what God can do in their own lives. This is a secondary, but just as important, reason to engaging with Jesus and expecting great things: it’s not just your life that is changed – it is others as well!
When the day started this guy didn’t expect a lot: a few pennies, a few nickels –whatever. He certainly didn’t expect to be healed and be a shining example of what God could do.