On some mid-afternoon following the Pentecost events of Acts 2, Peter and John found themselves in the presence of a physically disabled beggar outside the temple’s Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:1-10). Consider the following lessons from the record of his dramatic healing:
- Don’t Ever Give Up (3:2).The paralyzed man had convinced some of his friends, family, or strangers to carry him from his home (wherever it was) to the temple every day so he could ask for financial help from passersby. We learn later that the man was over 40 years old (4:22). How long he had been carried to the temple for assistance is not revealed. But the tenor of the text suggests that it had been happening for an extended period – long enough for the people to know who the man was (3:10). Though it must have been difficult and tedious day after day, the man persisted. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
- Keep Your Expectations Up (3:5).The text doesn’t specifically say, but I would guess that the man was probably turned down more often than he was helped. It would have been easy for his expectations to be always negative. Yet he looked at Peter and John “expecting to receive something from them.” What gave him confidence in these two men he had never met I don’t know. But his expectations were positive. As we look to the Lord for help, our expectations should be way up (James 1:5-6; Mark 11:24; Matt. 21:22; Heb. 11:6).
- Some Things are More Important than Money (3:6).“I have no silver and gold,” said Peter. The man only wanted a little money to help with life’s necessities, but Peter was about to give him something worth so much more. He not only would receive his physical health, but would also be introduced to the One by whose power he was healed – Jesus of Nazareth. All of this world’s silver and gold is not as valuable as one soul (Mark 8:36-37).
- Sometimes We Get More Than We Asked For (3:6-7).The man only asked for money. He got so much more. At times I find myself in need of the reminder of Ephesians 3:20, which boldly proclaims that our God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” When we teach people about prayer, we often highlight God’s possible answers to prayer as “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” What we don’t often mention is that God sometimes says, “yes – and more!”
- You Never Know What a Day May Bring (3:9-10).As the beggar sat in the arms of those who carried him to the temple, I doubt that he planned to be walking, leaping, and praising God by day’s end. But our God can do marvelous things. As the days, months and years roll by, how easy it is to create routines that become habits, then ruts. These ruts can not only be in our activities but in the way we think, too. Let us be reminded that just as the mercies of God “are new every morning” (Lam. 3:23), so can be our optimism for each new day.
Obviously, the beggar was never the same from that day forward. How he must have looked back on that day with the greatest of joy the rest of his life. Could this be a similar day for you? There’s no reason why not.