Summary: The Gate may be called Beautiful, but the scene was anything but. What can we learn about helping those in need from Peter's decision to give?
We’ve been studying the book of Acts and have reached a series of events that covers two chapters consisting of three scenes: at the Beautiful Gate, in front of the council, and gathered together with the believers. We’ll examine one scene each week because I know no one wants me to preach for an hour.
Today we find ourselves at the Gate called beautiful, but the scene was anything but. (Read Acts 3:1-10)
Some of you may remember singing this story as a child. (sing)
Peter and John went to pray, They met a lame man on the way
He asked for alms & held out his palms & this is what Peter did say
“Silver and gold have I none, But such as I have give I thee.
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Rise up and walk!”
He went walking and leaping And praising God,
Walking and leaping and praising God.
“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Rise up and walk!”
The first thing we can learn from this event is that we need to pay attention to the people around us. How often do we pass by someone without a second thought? Maybe it’s because we’ve been duped before. Some of the young men I worked with in the inner city shared how they would throw on jerseys and stand at street corners in the suburbs to ask for money to “travel to a tournament” when they wanted money to go to the movies. There was one lady that would show up at the same corner from time to time with a leg brace that she wore in a different spot on her leg every time she was seeking people’s change. Maybe we were in a hurry, like the priest and Levite from the parable of the Good Samaritan, we simply didn’t feel we had the time to stop and help. Maybe we just weren’t paying attention. The need isn’t always obvious- people put on a brave face, but are hurting inside. Sometimes asking “how you’re doing?” needs to be followed up with taking the time to listen to the answer. When Peter and John approached the Beautiful Gate, it would have been easy for them to ignore the crippled man, they probably passed him by several times on their way to the temple. But today was different, they paused to take notice.
The second thing we should understand as we explore this scene is that people will often present their symptoms, we’ve got to dig deeper to meet their true need. This lame man had sat at this gate every day for 40 years. What need did he request be met? Alms for the poor. This wouldn’t fix anything, he’d have to return the next day, it’s like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. What did Peter do for the man instead? He restored his ability to stand up and walk. Usually when we resolve to find the true need, we’re choosing to invest some time in a person, it rarely is a quick fix and may even be inconvenient for us. Our church is part of a food pantry that provides food in the community. What need is being presented? Hunger. What need is actually bringing them there? It may be the need for a job, maybe a medical condition has brought on hardship, it may be something else that has brought them to seek help in providing for their table. How do we as a church meet those needs and point them to Jesus? It begins with a conversation. Asking the questions to better know them and their needs, then committing to partner with them to get back on their feet.
The third thing we see here is that when results come, praise is given to God. Sometimes, like with the man at the Beautiful Gate, the results occur immediately. Other times those results will be delayed- we may not be present to see the transformation take place. Watch what happens when the man is healed. He gets right up and not only is he walking, but he’s leaping as he’s praising God. Notice who gets the credit- it wasn’t Peter, it was God, and rightly so. The celebration quickly spreads- people are filled with wonder and amazement and a crowd comes running to see what’s happening. Peter once again sees his opportunity and begins to preach the gospel. (read Acts 3:11-26)
What was the gospel message that Peter proclaimed and we still declare today? That Jesus was glorified by God, yet crucified by the people. Despite what they’d done, it was through Jesus that healing takes place- both physical like this man and spiritual for all who turn to Christ. Anyone who repents of their sin will be forgiven, can live a life receiving God’s blessings, and have hope for the time of Christ’s return. Peter points out that these events are the beginning of the fulfillment of prophecy. The good news has come- first to the Jews, or, as we saw in looking at the Great Commission, first in Jerusalem.