Summary: What is the real significance of the healing of the cripple at the Beautiful Gate?
An Unexpected Gift
Another day had dawned. The man’s friends arrive early to pick him up and take him to the Temple. They brought the man to the Temple door. But he does not enter in. you see, he is a crippled man, and crippled men were not allowed in the Temple. He could come to the door of the Temple. It was a beautiful door made of fine Corinthian brass. It took much silver and gold to pay for it. For years, the man looked upon this door and admired it. Perhaps he could hear the sound of praise and worship in the Temple. All he could do is to lay at the door. He was close to the Temple, but he was in a sense a million miles away.
This man was born with crippled feet. He had never walked a day in his life. He was dependent on charity. Occasionally a copper, or even a silver or gold coin was given to him by those entering into the Temple. What did these worshipers think of this man? Did they give to be seen by others? Or did they give grudgingly as many do when they try to get past the Salvation Army kettles at Christmastime? Maybe others, knowing that the man was there, decided to enter through a different door.
How often did this crippled man think what it would be like to walk? What was worship in the Temple like? But the reality of despair held the man in his iron grip. He was never going to walk. He was never going to enter. The crippled man had to lower expectations. Perhaps today, he would be lucky. Perhaps he might get a silver coin today. That would be a good day as it would pay for his upkeep for an entire day. A gold coin would be a holiday. But even these days were rare. Little did this man knw that on this day, he would receive a gift far more valuable than gold or silver.
The text says that Peter and John came to the Temple at the time of the evening prayer at 3 PM. The man had probably been lying there all day. Soon his friends would arrive and take him home. I wonder how the day went for the man. Had the people been generous? Or would he have to satisfy himself as he often did with a few crumbs. Here was an ugly man at the beautiful gate, visible to all, yet unseen.
Peter and John were ordinary men. Their appearance did not give the man all too much hope for a large donation. But at this late hour, any donation was better than none. The man noticed that these men did something that most of the passersby did not. They looked at the man. They saw him. His hopes were raised because he was at least a somebody to Peter and John, if even for a moment. Even when others dropped a coin, they did so without taking personal notice of the man. Their minds were elsewhere.
The most unexpected exchange now occurs. Not only did Peter and John see the man, they began to speak to him. This man who was cursed by infirmity was being treated as a person. By now, the crippled man’s hopes had risen. But then the words came out “We don’t have silver and gold.” These were not the words the cripple expected to hear or wanted to hear. After all, this man’s life had been reduced to that of silver and gold. This is what he begged for.
However, Peter and John do not stop here. They say that they do have something to give. “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Peter then reaches out his hand to pull the crippled man up. He touched the man. And something happened when he did. The crippled man was astonished. He could stand up. He could walk. The man was delighted. He immediately was healed! There were two things he had never done. The first was to stand on his own two feet. The second was to enter the Temple from which he as a cripple was excluded. He could enter the Temple with all those who had passed him by over the years and worship. He was healed in soul as well as body. So often in Jesus’ ministry, the people he healed did not return thanks. Not this man. When he was healed in Jesus’ name, he went in to worship, jumping, leaping for joy and praising God. He would have to find some other means of supporting himself. He was no longer the beggar at the gate. He has a new identity.
We know that this man was not the only man who was healed by either Jesus or the Apostles acting in Jesus’ name. Why was this one recorded when so many others were reduced to a group of people whom Jesus healed?