Now a man crippled 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 have I give to you. In the name of Jesus 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. (verses 2-8)
There are two angles from which to look at this story. The first comes from the perspective of Peter and John. No longer is their Lord and Teacher walking side by side with them in the flesh. Yet, they are freshly filled with his Spirit and alive to Jesus’ own calling placed on their lives, knowing they are sent into the world in the very way that the Father had sent the Son.
As they approach the temple, site of so many interactions alongside Jesus previously, they watch as a crippled man is carried on a stretcher to his regular spot beside the so-called Beautiful Gate. Were memories suddenly stirred, within Peter and John, of another cripple carried on a mat by friends? Did they remember the commotion as those friends tore through the roof above Jesus’ head, lowering their friend right down into his presence for healing? Did they sense, in that moment, a prompting that the Lord was ready to act once more?
And having spoken the word of healing (“Walk!”), then taking the man’s right hand and pulling him to his feet, did they remember that other lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, rising to his feet at Jesus’ command (“Get up! … Walk”), and then taking up his mat and doing exactly that?
Maybe it all happened too quickly for memories. Nonetheless, Peter and John deliberately stood in Jesus’ place as they commanded healing for this man. “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth,” Peter said simply, “walk.” And the man did.
The other angle comes from the perspective of the man himself. He’d sat at this same gate for countless days previously. Had he seen Jesus before. Had he perhaps witnessed the healing of the blindman who had likewise been begging for years? Had he heard Jesus’ voice ring out in the temple as he drove out money-changers and sellers of doves, and then watched as the blind and the lame received healing at Jesus’ hands? Had he wondered why Jesus had never stopped for him, why his own condition was seemingly overlooked? Had he?
But now is the time.
Did Peter and John remember Jesus’ words spoken about the blindman, words that now seem so apt for this occasion: “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life”(John 9:3)? Certainly history has proven this to be the case. This man’s story has been told again and again down the ages, each time giving profound inspiration regarding the power of Jesus’ name. How many countless young voices in recent years have sung, “I’m running and leaping and praising God”, being filled with joy at the wonder of God’s work in this man’s life?
This is the time. I expect this man would echo the psalmist and say, with great joy, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15). Like the Israelites waiting through plague after plague for the Exodus, he might well have wished it was sooner. But after the fact, I have no doubt he rejoiced in God’s time.
When we find ourselves questioning the Lord’s timing in our own circumstance (“Why does he delay?”) we might look to the Gate Beautiful again and see a praise-filled man leaping right on through, because the time had come. And it was good.
Lord Jesus, praise you that your work continues. You haven’t stopped. All too often I am impatient. But I submit my requests to you again, waiting on your timing. I remember the man at the Gate. I give thanks for your work in him. I watch for your work in me.
Pray: Take in hand your longings and prayers that have not been met, and put them before the Lord again. Remember the man. Trust.
Photo by Anna Shvets: https://www.pexels.com/photo/walking-crutches-3846165/