Luke’s story of a miracle healing begins as Peter and John are at the Temple, and a crippled man is carried in by his friends to what was no doubt his usual begging station, which was at the Beautiful Gate.
The Healing Of The Crippled Man
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.),
Acts 3:1 (AMP)
The early Christians were still faithful Jews. At three in the afternoon, the hour of prayer, they were headed to church as we might do on a Sunday morning. We see no unique connection between Peter and John except that they were part of the inner circle present at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). Everything about the Christian faith still revolved around Jerusalem. The believers saw no reason to separate themselves from the city and the religion that had openly rejected and even crucified their Lord. Their goal was not to turn away, but rather to proclaim the name of Jesus to the very ones who had shouted:“Crucify Him!”
Helplessness Of The Crippled Man
And a man who had been unable to walk from birth was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful so that he could beg alms from those entering the temple.
Acts 3:2 (AMP)
Luke had already told us in his Gospel that the healing of physically challenged people would be a sign of the Lord’s return (Luke 7:22). These apostles believed they lived in the end times and, in the broad sweep of human history, they did, just as we do. The man had chosen an excellent place for begging since giving of alms was a virtuous act for the Jews. Luke tells us the man was crippled from birth, using a Greek term which commonly described paralysis in the ankles or heels, making walking impossible. It had been his plight for more than forty years. Each day someone brought him to the temple along with dozens of other beggars. Each sought to catch the attention of the real worshipers passing their way.
So when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking [them] for coins.
Acts 3:3 (AMP)
The man sat outside the temple. Luke wants us to notice that the beggar picked Peter and John out of the crowd. Then, he did what beggars do – he asked them for money. The Greek verb here is interesting. The word “erota” appears in the inchoative imperfect, suggesting an oft-repeated appeal he had made for years.
Recently, these men had been involved in an evangelistic effort which brought thousands to Christ. Now God tells them, this one lost sheep is just as important to him as the thousands to whom they preached at Pentecost.
This lesson should sound a clarion note in a society obsessed with numbers and size. A pastor or congregation serving Jesus Christ in a rural church of fifty renders just as valuable service for the kingdom of God as the pastoral staff and sprawling congregation in an urban megachurch of five thousand. God is not interested in the number of people you and I teach or disciple or influence; he watches how faithfully we seize opportunities for ministry.
But Peter, along with John, stared at him intently and said, “Look at us!” And the man began to pay attention to them, eagerly expecting to receive something from them.
Acts 3:4-5 (AMP)
Peter had never been famous for indecisiveness (except at the time of the crucifixion), although he often chose the wrong direction. Here he was right on target. We can almost sense the drama as Peter’s eyes locked on the eyes of the beggar. Rather than reaching in their money pouches as he expected, these two strange men stared straight at him. Not only that, but Peter commanded, Look at us! The Greek form tells us the man gave the apostles his total attention, possibly expecting some unusual generosity.
Why call for his attention he had already addressed them?
He would call for attention because a veteran beggar would be looking well beyond his immediate clientele to whoever might be next in line. Beg to everyone, and hope a few will respond. Peter, filled with the Spirit of God, had more in mind. God forced them into a ministry opportunity they had not anticipated, but they were ready. In the seconds that passed during this brief encounter, this man could not have known what his Creator was about to do through these two potential donors.
We often ask God to solve a small problem, but he wants to give us a whole new life and help for all our problems. He may say, “I’ve got something even better for you.” You may ask God for what you want, but don’t be surprised when he gives you what you need.
Holman New Testament Commentary
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible