Summary: Here is a man born crippled. In his whole life he has never walked. Suddenly he is healed and he is walking and leaping and praising God!
The reports were astounding. There were so many professions of faith, baptisms and new house churches that formed that it seemed to come right out of the pages of Acts. I was more than happy to lead the team of twelve researches tasked to better understand how the gospel was moving so rapidly. We interviewed 207 believers from that movement and asked them everything we could to understand what God was doing among them.
One thing became clear, miraculous healings were extremely important in this movement of God. In almost every occasion the sick had tried to find help elsewhere (local tribal gods, medical doctors and witch doctors) to no avail. Then, they would hear about what was happening around them. That the power of God was moving and that Jesus could help them. They would call the believer to come who might help them. When praying for miracles, the believer would tell the sick “If you believe, Jesus will help you.” I could imagine it would be much the same if I were interviewing the lame man from Acts 3. He was healed after being crippled for forty years.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
This passage centers on a great miracle. This is a story of the miraculous. It is a healing that goes contrary to all natural laws. Here is a man born crippled. In his whole life he has never walked. He is over forty years old and never walked one step (Act 4:22). He is so crippled that he had to be carried to this place at the temple gate. Suddenly he is healed and he is walking and leaping and praising God!
The public nature of this miracle caused a snowball effect. There were salvations that resulted almost to the extent of Pentecost. Severe persecution followed. Most of Acts Chapters 3-4 is about is about the aftershocks of this miracle. The account says that the number of believers grew to 5,000 (Acts 4:4) so since three thousand were baptized at Pentecost probably more than 1,000 came to faith in Christ as a result of that miracle.
This whole chain of events starts out with Peter and John going to the Temple to pray. OK, So far so good. They are still worshiping at the temple even after the crucifixion of Jesus.
Peter and James are confronted with the uncomfortable situation; a beggar at the temple wanting them to give money when they went to pray. Beggars would strategically place themselves at the temple gates hoping those who go and worship will give some money. Sometimes in relating the bible setting we have to describe what the situation was like. So much has changed from that time to now.
In this case what it is like to be in the presence of beggars is known to us. Back in those days some people were down and out and had to beg for money. Today it’s the same. Some people are down and out and are reduced to begging. In this case the beggar asked Peter and John for money as they passed by him.
This man was there every day. Apparently he did not even look up. He just had his hand out saying “alms for the poor” or something like that. It may be that Peter and John passed by him many times before. It is suggested even Jesus may have passed by him, since he was at the temple so much. Maybe Jesus even saw him 21 years earlier when his family left him at the temple. This man was there every day with the other beggars.