The Bible tells us that he had been lame since birth.
This man was “laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple” (Acts 3:2).
Can you imagine living in this kind of situation? Can you imagine what it would be like to depend on others just to take you from one place to the other? Can you imagine having to beg for money every single day, just to survive? Can you imagine looking the same people in the eye, day after day, knowing that you will never NOT need their help?
I would imagine that this kind of life would be difficult, to say the least. I can imagine that it could slowly drain a person of all reasonable hope for a better tomorrow. I can imagine that it would become quite a challenge just to wake up every morning, knowing exactly what the day was going to be like.
But this day was going to be different.
As the lame man sat in his regular “spot,” Peter and John walked by on their way into the temple, and – as was his daily custom – he “asked to receive alms” from them (vs. 4).
What happened next was certainly unexpected.
The Bible tells us that “Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us’” (vs. 4). This is a little creepy, right? I can imagine that this man is accustomed to people giving him alms as they walk by – or NOT giving him alms as they walk by – but I can’t imagine that there were too many people who simply stopped to LOOK at him.
Were these two men going to give him alms or not? Were they going to give him a lecture about panhandling at the temple? Were they going to challenge him to a staring contest? It seems to be a pretty tense moment, doesn’t it?
We are told, “he [the lame man] fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them” (vs. 5).
Peter then told him, “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!” (vs. 6)
And he did.
Peter took him by the hand, raised him up, and his “feet and ankles were made strong” (vs. 7).
Try to picture the pure, unbridled joy as this man – who has NEVER walked – begins to feel his feet and legs for the first time ever. And he doesn’t just walk, does he? No, the Bible tells us, “And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (vs. 8).
He had received so much more than he was asking or waiting for.
He had no idea that, when he was carried to the temple that day, he would be walking home.
Can I ask some questions?
Why do we “go to church?”
Why do we pray?
What are we expecting to happen when we come into the presence of Almighty God? Have we reduced our expectations to nothing more than the equivalent of “alms?” Have we come to the point in our faith where we are just trying to get through the day? Do we – like this man – hang around religious people so that we can say, “at least I’m trying,” or do we believe that God Himself is capable of actually changing our lives?
What are we waiting for?
Jesus wants to bless us with “every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3), and He wants us to have an abundant life (Jn. 10:10), but have we settled for something else?
As the Scripture says, “we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him” (Eph. 3:12), and the Hebrews writer exhorts, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
If there is a relationship in the life of a Christian in which great things should be expected, it should be our relationship with God through Jesus Christ!
Do we truly believe that God can heal us, strengthen us, change us, and use us for something great in His Kingdom? If so, why not start expecting those things from Him instead of “selling Him short” in our lives? And if we DON’T expect those things from God, we might want to change our expectations!