Summary: It’s time for prayer - Healing comes to a beggar...opportunity... there is the expectation of something happening.
Here we are in week three of the diary of the early church…perhaps it is more of a scrapbook of little notes and pictures, news paper clippings of events that that the writer wanted noticed so we don’t want to forget. It had only been a couple of weeks since Jesus ascended into heaven and last week we talked about the birthday of the church….the arrival of the Holy Spirit. The third person of God that is to be our guide and comforter.
Last week we noticed that with the woosh..with the wind the people were changed.
I hope that you made an effort to be open to the spirit over the week.
So in our scripture today we have two disciples still in Jerusalem, and they are acting in a pretty normal way. It is the 9th hour, that is three in the afternoon and that means it is time for prayer. There were three times of prayer each day held at the temple. Two of them included sacrifices and the third did not.
Peter and John are just headed up to the temple, this happens after Pentecost but we really don’t know how long after. But, they don’t seem to have any fear as they head up to the temple…..in scripture it is always described as going up to the temple….two reasons…the first is most obvious. The temple is the highest place in Jerusalem…Second, when you are going to be in the presence of God you always go up.
Suddenly they were not afraid to go into the streets and talk about Jesus. Peter is just plain bold. The only thing that happens is that thousands of people believe in Jesus Christ as the messiah.
They had a great day, Chapter two describes a teaching period and even says that they met in the temple courts daily.
So, we can guess that Peter and John were heading up to Sunday school. There are no telling how many days they have seen this man. A beggar, 40 years old and never had a real job a day in his life. His legs appear obviously weak. I doubt he looks healthy. His friends get him to his begging spot right in from of the main entrance to the temple… The beautiful gate -- was said to be covered in polished brass, had precious stones inset. In is the opening that separates the courtyard of the gentiles from the courtyard of women… when you stand in this gate you see the Nicanor Gate where you can see the Alter of Sacrifice, where the sacrifices are burned, rising high behind the Nicanor gate you can see the building that contains the Alter of Incense and the Holy of holies.
Standing at the gate beautiful visually looks like looking into heaven. The appearance is grand and everything is huge. It looks God sized.
But as Peter and John go up the stairs to the temple mount, there sits the beggar. You know back then, if you could not support your self, and your family did not support you it was not long before you died.
There was no real treatment for disabling disease or birth defects. All you could do was sit around. If the family was poor, you needed to earn your own way. So begging was almost all that was available. The Jewish law instructed the people to give to the poor. It was part of the culture to give some of what God gave you for the sake of humanity.
So, I imagine that this man was not the only beggar along the stairs. This man asks Peter and John for money. Probably something he does to different people hundreds of times a day.
He is like one of thoes telemarketers that call during dinnertime. They call to offer you an opportunity. A Credit Card, a time chare, news paper or any kind of product or service.
What is our response when someone offers us an opportunity….Are we suspicious?
Do we look for what is in this proposal for us?
Of course we do!
When we are offered an opportunity, there is supposed to be something in it for me. But, it will most likely include a benefit for the person asking as well.
We get the wall Street journal at a discount and … they get a commission for sharing this amazing deal….
In their job, they have to ask, 10, 20, 50 maybe 100 people before someone actually agrees to take the service. That is hard work. I can not imagine how someone can take that much rejection.
This beggar is offering the people entering the temple a change to keep a God given instruction to give alms to the poor. He is asking 100’s of people a day just to get enough money for food and shelter. If he were making big bucks he would not have been working the steps day after day.