“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.” (Acts 3:1-3)
When the crippled man saw Peter and John, he only saw the possibility of another meal or perhaps a new cloak. The whole of his life was contingent upon the number of coins he collected. He had no way of knowing an opportunity for a brand new life stood before him.
“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.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:4-7)
Crippled people blanket the landscape of this sin-infected world: mentally crippled, emotionally crippled, spiritually crippled, crippled in myriad ways by their own poor choices, the cruel hand of others or bad circumstance. Many have violated God’s prohibition: “Ye shall not make…gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.” (Exodus 20:23) God warns us about the enslaving debilitating power of those shiny deities and their trappings.
What if the lame man by the temple gate had slapped Peter’s hand away? He would have continued to exist day to day, dependent upon the life-draining promises of silver and gold. We see it all the time. People set themselves against the Lord of heaven. Nevertheless, we who follow Him must be the Peter and John for those around us; reaching out to them, not with silver and gold, but with the Gospel. Yes, we still have a bit of a limp ourselves, and yes, our hands will get slapped more often than not, but we “know we weren’t redeemed by corruptible things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” (I Peter 1:18-19) We need to share with others that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is lovingly reaching out to all of us “lame from our mother’s womb” folks, and He is saying, “Take My hand, rise up and walk – rise up and live.”