Acts 3:1-10 (ESV)
3 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.
Our text this week focuses on the difference that an encounter with the Holy Spirit makes in a believer’s life. Pentecost signifies a day that is critical in Church history, but it also signals the opportunity for every believer to experience “the present tense of Jesus.”
Peter and John encounter a lame man on their way to worship in the temple (vs. 2) The text clearly says that this man has been a fixture at this gate, begging for alms on a daily basis. Peter and John have obviously seen the lame man at this spot before. However, this encounter happens after Pentecost, and we see the impact Pentecost had on their lives and, subsequently, the way they look at this man and his plight. If they have seen this man before, they may have even become annoyed at his persistent begging. But on this day, after their encounter with Jesus at Pentecost, they simply see this man with a complete different set of eyes. They tell him to look at them and he does so with great expectation. But imagine his heart sinking as they say in one breath, we don’t have money, but we will give you what we have. In that split second, this lame man probably relived the disappointment that was typical of his life. But with their next breath, they grab his hands saying, “In the name of Jesus get up and walk!” And then something happened that this man had never experienced; his limbs are transformed from life-long lameness to the capability of running and leaping and of course praising God. All this drama occurs in a split second! The words of Peter and John are a Spirit-empowered statement that shows us the power of Pentecost. They look at the tragedy of a man whose life has known only misery; they don’t feel sorry for him but believe that his future can be transformed by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! They are convinced by the encounter they have had at Pentecost, that encounters with the impossibility of human tragedy need not continue to be a hopeless experience.
The lame man was clearly not quiet about this miraculous healing in his body. Imagine being lame from birth, eking out an existence by begging. You have never walked a day in your life and now you are actually walking and leaping and doing so in front of a big crowd. (9) Faster than a “viral tweet” the whole community knows what has occurred. The response by the spectators is not merely, “Wow, isn’t that cool!” but wonder and amazement at what had happened to the lame man. (10)
This is the power of Pentecost. It “illuminates” our capability to look at situations that previously have been called impossible and see with the eyes of resurrection power. That was the experience of Peter and John as they encountered the familiar old beggar who had sat at the gate for as long as they could remember. The power of Pentecost may have changed their view of the lame man, whom they had probably seen as annoying and who, over time, may have even become invisible to them. The Holy Spirit showed them how God Himself saw this lame man, not begging for alms but walking and leaping and praising God.
Vice President, ChildHope
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.