It has always been a puzzle to me why Jesus had not healed this lame man in Acts 3:1-10. Evidently he had been brought to the temple habitually for a long, long time, and Jesus must certainly have seen him as he passed into the temple. But he never healed him.
All of which indicates that God has his time for significant events and that until his day strikes; things go on pretty much as usual. Then God’s program moves into gear, and things happen which could have happened at any earlier time but did not, for a distinct reason.
At any rate, here was this man waiting at the gate of the temple. And the striking thing about this is that when he asked alms of Peter, Peter stopped, and said to him, “Look at us.”
This is imperative because it is right in line with the activities of Jesus whenever he wanted to heal anyone. He never walked up to someone and merely touched him and healed him, without first directing his attention to himself. He always captivated the attention of the individuals he wanted to heal, led them to focus their gaze on him. The reason is that this arouses a sense of expectation. It always quickens faith. This is what happened here.
This man expected to receive something from Peter and John. He did not know what he was going to get — thought it was money, I am sure — but his faith was quickened by Peter’s words. This is very necessary to receive anything from God. You must expect something from him.
Now, what happened?
The minute Peter had this man’s attention, he did two things which are most interesting:
- First, he admitted his bankruptcy in the material realm: “Silver and gold have I none,” he said. “That’s what you are looking for, but I can’t help you there.”
- And then, he demonstrated his amazing adequacy in the spiritual realm: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
And, in that exciting moment, as this man was looking at Peter and John, and heard these words, at the mention of the name of Jesus something remarkable happened. Strength came flowing into his ankles, and Peter, sensing it, took him by the right hand and lifted him up. The man rose and began to leap and shout and jump around, trying out this new-found strength in his legs which he had never known because he was lame from birth. No wonder it had an amazing effect on the people:
All the people saw him walking and praising God; and they recognized him as the very man who usually sat begging for coins at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with wonder and amazement and were mystified at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:9-10 AMP)
There was an immediate two-fold effect. These people were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was at work. They heard this done and saw it. And it was done in the name of Jesus — that name which signifies all that Jesus Christ is. That is what your name means.
People ask, “What’s your name?”
And you tell them. From then on, whatever they see in you, that is what your name means to them. You sign your name on a cheque, and it is good to the extent of what you have deposited in the bank. It releases that amount to the one to whom the check is addressed. That name represents you.
So the name of Jesus is not a magic formula that Peter uses here to produce a miracle. Peter is saying, “This is the Power on whom I am depending. I am not reckoning on silver and gold. That is not what you need, really. I am not counting on that as the resources from which I draw.”
Undoubtedly this beggar did need some silver and gold. He probably needed some food and clothing and other things. But that is not what Peter offers him because he did not have it. He offers him the authority and power and the resources of the name of Jesus. And all that Jesus was…was working through Peter at that time.
That is what the church is called to do — what every Christian is called to do — to declare our bankruptcy in the realm of the material. The church is not called to meet the material needs of the world. Now, I do not mean that it is wrong to give money. It is not wrong at all. The parable of the Good Samaritan keeps us in balance here and shows that we can help people with our money. But that is not what the church is called to do, basically. That will be a result of the helping in other areas.
The initial call of the church is to release the life of God, to declare the power of God, and to make available to men what God only can do, in the name of Jesus. This is what happened here. These people saw it and were convinced that God was at work, and they were prepared to listen to an explanation.
In my next blog post we will address the question of healing, but let’s remember here that spiritual miracles are no less miraculous and certainly no less important than physical miracles.