A. The healing of the paralytic at the Gate Beautiful.
1. (1-3) The request of the paralyzed beggar.
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
a. Now Peter and John went up together: Peter and John were both commissioned by Jesus and recognized by the early Christians as apostles – special ambassadors of Jesus. Acts 2:43 told us, many signs and wonders were done through the apostles. Acts 3 tells us of a specific example, one of the many.
i. We can think of at least three reasons why Luke found it important to share the story of this miracle. First, to give an example of what he mentioned in Acts 2:43. Second, to give an excuse for telling us about another sermon of Peter. Third, to show why these earliest Christians were persecuted, because that is what this beautiful story leads to.
b. At the hour of prayer: Apparently Peter and John saw no problem in continuing their Jewish custom of prayer at certain hours of the day.
i. Morgan points out that Peter and John were not going to the temple at the hour of sacrifice, but at the hour of prayer that followed the afternoon sacrifice. They realized that the sacrificial system was fulfilled in the perfect sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross.
ii. Calvin saw a missionary intent in what Peter and John did: “Furthermore, if any man ask, whether the apostles went up into the temple that they might pray according to the rite of the law, I do not think that that is a thing so likely to be true, as they might have better opportunity to spread abroad the gospel.”
iii. The ninth hour: “Perhaps this time of day, even then, held special significance for them because it was the hour when Jesus cried from the cross, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).” (Hughes)
c. The gate of the temple which is called Beautiful: The Jewish historian Josephus described this gate on the temple mount; made of fine Corinthian brass, seventy-five feet high with huge double doors, so beautiful that it “greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold.” (Cited in Stott)
d. A certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried . . . asked for alms: The lame man simply wanted to be supported in the condition that he was in. God had something better in mind; Jesus wanted to completely change his condition.
i. Of course, the lame man felt he had no other option than to be supported in his condition; and it was certainly better for him to be supported than to starve to death.
ii. In addition, the man had good reason to believe that begging at the Beautiful gate could support him. There was (and is) a strong tradition of alms-giving (giving to the poor, especially beggars) in Judaism, and doing it as an act of righteousness.
2. (4-6) What Peter said to the lame man.
And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
a. Fixing his eyes on him: The man must have been happy and encouraged when Peter and John looked at him intently. Most people who want to ignore beggars are careful to not make eye contact with them. When they looked at the lame man so intently, he probably thought he had a big gift coming.
b. He gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them: The lame man returned the eye contact with Peter and John; perhaps he stretched out his hand or a cup to receive their generosity.
i. The lame man was correct in expecting to receive something from them, but he received much more than the monetary donation he would have been satisfied with!
ii. Many have yet to come to the place where they really expect something from God. This is faith, plain and simple – even if the man expected less than Jesus wanted to give.
iii. Better yet, we should expect the right things from God. We are often much too ready to settle for much less than God wants to give to us, and our low expectations often rob us.
c. Silver and gold I do not have: Peter didn’t have any money, but he did have authority from Jesus to heal the sick (what I do have I give to you). Peter knew what it was like to have God use him to heal others, because Jesus had trained him in this (Luke 9:1-6).
i. For some people, to say “silver and gold I do not have” is about the worst thing that can be said. They feel the church is in ruins if it must say “silver and gold I do not have.” But it is much worse if the church never has the spiritual power to say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”?
ii. There is a story – perhaps true – about a humble monk walking with a Roman Catholic cardinal at a time in the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was at its zenith of power, prestige and wealth. The cardinal pointed to the opulent surroundings and said to the monk, “We no longer have to say, silver and gold I do not have.” The monk replied, “But neither can you say, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”