Summary: This text reminds us that exercising faith in Christ make all of the difference; faith is not just a noun but also serves as a verb.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 2) And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. 3) When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. 4) Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ 5) And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6) But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ 7) And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8) Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9) All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10) and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3: 1-10)
This passage of scripture describes the first miracle performed by the apostles after the ascension of Jesus Christ. Peter and John were in Jerusalem, on their way to the temple at the hour of prayer. As they approached the temple, a lame man asked them for money. Instead of giving money, Peter challenged the man to rise and walk by faith in the name of Christ. The man accepted the challenge, was healed of his birth defect, and for the first time in his life became ‘upwardly mobile’. He bypassed the typical stages of crawling, learning to pull himself up, and taking baby steps. He went immediately from sitting to leaping. He quickly transitioned from alms-asking to praise-giving. Previously, he saw life at ground level, but now gained a new perspective on life. Previously, he was an object of sympathy; a social dependent left at the gate, and left to the mercy of the worshipers. Now he was empowered to become connected to his faith community inside the temple. Previously, his physical condition defined his social identity; he was known by his birth defect instead of his birth name. Now ‘the lame man’ was ‘a man’; he was no longer a public health statistic but now a whole person.
This man did not become ‘upwardly mobile’ by exercising stock options, but rather by exercising his faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 3:16). Acts 4: 22 states that the man was over forty years old. Therefore, he was at least seven years older than Christ was at the time of the crucifixion. That suggests he never took a leap of faith during the time of Christ’s ministry, but remained just as immobilized and dependent on others as he was prior to Christ’s birth. It was not until he used his faith that his body became usable as well. Hence, despite the community’s daily support, nothing changed in this man’s life until he exerted his faith in Christ.
This passage echoes the admonition of Hebrews 11:6 – without faith it is impossible to please God, for the person that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those that seek Him. This passage echoes the call of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4 – God wants us to leave the comfort of the familiar. This passage echoes Luke 5:1-11 – God wants us to push past the pain of our failure.
When God tells the Hebrews to put lamb’s blood on the door post or to stand still and see their salvation at the Red Sea, the message is ‘trust me’. When God tells the Hebrews in the Decalogue that they should have no other god but Him, the message is ‘trust me’. When God tells the Hebrews to not save the manna but expect their daily bread, the message is ‘trust me’. On the other hand, when the report of the 2 spies is rejected, the forty year judgment was based on a lack of trust. When Samuel died, the Hebrews cried out for a king like the others nations because of a lack of trust. Moses struck the rock when told to speak to it because of a lack of trust. Most of the change events in which Christ altered the trajectory of someone’s life was based on trust. From Genesis to Revelation, God calls on His people to demonstrate faith in Him. Trusting God results in blessings and not trusting God results in trouble.