The Lame Beggar Healed
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.
4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Observations and Reflections
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
The 9th hour of the day was about 3:00 PM, as the Jewish day started about 6:00 AM. This was also the time when one of the two daily sacrifices were made in the Temple.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Command the Israelites, and say to them: My offering, the food for my offerings by fire, my pleasing odor, you shall take care to offer to me at its appointed time. 3 And you shall say to them, This is the offering by fire that you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish, daily, as a regular offering. 4 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; (Numbers 28:1-4)
We know that this practice from the OT ritual laws was still being practiced in the 1st century because Josephus confirmed it for us.
did still twice a day, in the morning and about the ninth hour, offer their sacrifices on the altar (Antiquities 14:65)
This was also the prime time of the day for the poor to ask for alms. While modern culture may find this off-putting, the Jewish culture made alms to the poor a vital part of it’s ethos. In the 3rd century Mishna text, Pirkē Aboth (ethic of the Fathers), the three foundations of the Jewish life are described as Torah, Temple service, and charity. It also goes on to describe how one should treat the poor.
On three things the world stands: on the Torah, on the service and on acts of loving-kindness. (Pirkē Aboth 1.2)
Your house should be open wide, and you should make the poor members of your household. (Pirkē Aboth 1:5)
“Meet every person with graciousness.” (Pirkē Aboth 1:15)
Indeed, the Jewish ethic was one that honored the poor and sought to lift them up, not condemn them. This was very strange to other cultures in the 1st century. Other cultures saw the poor and crippled as deserving their lot in life because it was the result of some sin they committed. Some Jews also believed this about the poor yet they were commanded to care for them anyways.
Even though the beggar was looking for money, Peter and John had no money. This passage probably isn’t preached by the televangelists, but the disciples and Jesus were not wealthy. They were quite the opposite. Jesus did not even have a home. But what they did have was the power of the name of Jesus which is the name that they called upon to heal the beggar.
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk! (Acts 3:6)
After the healing, the beggar entered the Temple with the disciples which would have been quite a scene. Certainly the disciples would have been recognized. They knew the disciples that were with the recently crucified Jesus. Certainly such a display would infuriate the Temple leaders and the very people who had Jesus handed over to be crucified. However, the crowds probably reconsidered whether or not Jesus was actually the Christ.
This is one of the many miracles that we see Peter and John performing after the day of Pentecost. This miracle is similar to the one that took place during the time of Jesus’s ministry. In John 5 we see a similar miracle being enacted by Jesus Christ towards a lame man who had been sick for thirty-eight years.
This passage does not tell us how long this particular man was sick for but here we see how Peter and John use the same authority that God has given them to heal this man. This miracle portrays how Peter and John took the attention away from themselves and this mans earthly needs and instead pointed him back to Jesus Christ.
He woke up that morning expecting to go about his regular routine of sitting by the temple begging for money. What he got instead was not only physical healing but spiritual healing as well. He was able to experience God’s hand of power and grace in his life and the response we get to see is exactly the type of response one should have when God does great things. He was filled joy and began to praise God for the miracle that took place.
His response to this miracle is one that also helps in spreading the gospel to those who had bore witness to it. Anyone who had seen what took place caused them to question how this could have happened and opens up a gateway to learn more about the true source of power that is behind the miracle.
Peter and John were boldly continuing with the work that God had sent them out to do. The Holy Spirit was continuing to enable them with power and authority to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the rest of the world.
Let us also rejoice in what God has done and will continue to do in and through us. This miracle portrays God’s hand at work in the lives of those who seek to serve Him. It is one that declares that Jesus is alive and His Holy Spirit is continuing to show the undeniable truth of who He is and what He has accomplished on the cross.
[Featured image: St. Peter Healing the Crippled Beggar, in the Ottheinrich-Bibel] This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less.