The Name of Jesus: Devotional Commentary for May 23-29
3:1 Now Peter and John went up together to the Temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
We do not know how long after Pentecost this event took place; probably within a few weeks of that momentous occasion. The text implies that Peter and John continued going to the Temple regularly as part of their daily worship. Even though they were redeemed and commissioned disciples of Jesus Christ, Peter, John, and probably the rest of the disciples seem to have continued going to the Temple for daily prayer and worship along with everyone else. The Temple was the only central location designated as the house of prayer and worship.
At this particular time of the day, Peter and John went to the Temple for the afternoon hour of prayer during which others were also gathered for prayer, worship, and sacrifice according to the traditions of the Judaic faith. According to the Jewish custom of counting the hours of the day, (dawn to dusk), the ninth hour would be three o'clock in the afternoon.
2And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the Temple;
3who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple, asked for alms.
Just like Peter and John, most of the people had also established daily routines for going to the Temple. Most of the people went to the Temple for prayer, worship, and sacrifice while some were there, often looking for help to meet basic needs for subsistence. Physically handicapped people were routinely placed in conspicuous places where the foot traffic was heavy. There they would beg for alms or handouts from their more fortunate neighbors. Accordingly, a man who had been lame from birth was brought by some friends to the gate called Beautiful.
This was common practice among the Jews because, the people were admonished and mandated by the Scriptures and their Judaic traditions to care for the needy among them, those in servitude, and those who could not make a living on their own. In this way, the poor among them would be cared for, as the Lord blesses their land for their obedience.
As always, perhaps especially at this hour of the day, there were more people traversing the path through the Temple courtyard by the Beautiful Gate. Likewise, the lame man would have always been placed by his faithful friends at his usual spot near the Beautiful Gate. He would constantly call out to passersby so that they would notice him and, having pity on his condition, would give him money.
Peter and John were no different. As they were passing this beggar, he called out to them, asking for money. Little did the paralyzed man know that these two men were the commissioned servants of the Most High God. Little did he know that he had an appointment with the Great Physician and the Savior of the lost.
4And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, Look at us."
5So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
6Then Peter said, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
7And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
Peter and John made an eye contact with the lame man and fixed their gaze upon him. Then Peter told the man to look at them so that he might observe the manner of their demeanor and social status. Perhaps most of the people avoided looking directly at the man. Those in a charitable mood may drop a few coins into his hands, but no one wanted to look at someone so broken and helpless. But this was not true of Peter and John. Instead of giving him what he asked for however, they initiated a conversation with him; a conversation leading to an enduring change.
Obviously, the disabled beggar looked at them expecting to receive some form of a charitable gift that would provide for his needs. Up to this point, nothing out of the ordinary happened. The man had always asked for gift and the people passing-by continued to give handouts. For him, it was another day at the Beautiful Gate.
The beggar was probably deeply disappointed when he heard Peter say that he did not have any money. It would have been unthinkable for the beggar to realize that someone who seemed to have paid attention would not give anything to a man in desperate need. The man might have wondered in himself: Aren't these two men Jews? Are they not better-off than he was? Did they not come to the Temple to do that which is righteous and charitable?
But then Peter made a very unusual statement, declaring that he will give him what he had, even though the man did not ask for that or did not know to ask for such a thing. He commanded the man to get up and walk, invoking the Name of Jesus Christ.
Peter did not simply stand and gaze at the disabled man watching what would happen next. He was fully engaged in the physical delivery of the gift of healing the Lord gave through his words. He spoke with power and courage. He acted by faith.
We can imagine the man’s astonishment. He had been crippled from birth. Everyone who came to the Temple had witnessed this man’s plight since he had been at this particular place every day, begging for alms. Any of them could testify that his case seemed hopeless.
Nevertheless, Peter took the man’s right hand and began to help him up. As Peter lifted the man to his feet, his legs began to receive strength. The man himself and the people watching observed that Peter's words and action were endowed with the Power of the sovereign God and His victorious Son. No one would have been more surprised than the man himself.
8So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the Temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
9And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
10Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
In that newly found strength, the man sprang to his feet the rest of the way right into the temple. He began to walk for the first time in his life. He accompanied Peter and John into the Temple courtyard, walking and jumping and praising God. This was also a first for this man. Being crippled, he was considered ceremonially unclean and could never actually enter the sanctuary of the Temple. He could only sit at the gate and place himself at the mercy of those who pitied him.
The man who could now walk was leaping into the air and praising God. In the process, he was drawing a lot of attention to himself. He created quite a spectacle. Whereas most of the people would have approached the Temple sanctuary with relative quiet, this man was shouting at the top of his lungs. He simply could not restrain himself. It was time to praise the Lord with lively action and meaningful expression. No one instructed the man how to behave. As if from a deep well of flowing water, It came from his healed body, his delivered soul, and his redeemed heart. the man was healed and the people knew it. The disciples were vindicated. God was glorified and the Name of Jesus was exalted.
In what is commonly known as the Great Commission, Jesus instructed the disciples with His parting words to be His witnesses to the world, which would not see Him in person until He returns to judge the quick and the dead. In these final words, Jesus promised that He will send them the Holy Spirit Who will lead them into all truths and become the presence and the Power of God the Almighty in them, as they proclaim the Gospel and convey in real ways to real people the blessings of God in His Name. Such was the occasion which took place at the Beautiful Gate during which Peter and John became the vessels of God's glory, as the Lord revealed His Power and Grace in healing the crippled man and in filling his soul with the Joy of salvation.
One might be easily consumed by the wonder of the miracle itself and miss the life-changing truth embedded in this momentous event. Certainly, the miracle of healing is beyond comprehension. It is awe-striking, phenomenal, and is the marvel of all wonders! After all, healing is the expression of God's work through His servants by which He glorifies Himself and blesses His children.
However, what Peter, John, and the crippled man experienced was a direct, personal, and transforming divine touch from God in which individual blessings were bestowed and the Name of Jesus Christ was publicly glorified. Both Peter and john, and the disabled beggar were doing what each one has been routinely doing. They were at the Temple: the man begging and Peter and John coming to the Temple for prayer. The man was hoping that God would move the people with pity toward him while Peter and John were praising God and perhaps asking for His confirmation and Power for their service to Him. But God moved in a different way, engaging the same individuals according to His plan and Will.
Peter spoke courageously and acted by faith. He believed, and therefore, he invoked the Name of Jesus Christ and acted. Peter was not embarrassed to admit his poverty in earthly wealth, but was unashamed to openly declare his riches in Jesus Christ.
The disabled man, although disappointed, heard the words and responded when he was helped up to rise and stand. Faith was openly exercised and publicly displayed. They trusted in His Promises and obeyed His Precepts.
The miracle itself was also amazing. It’s as though Jesus never left. Peter’s pronouncement of the lame man’s healing by invoking the Power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth simply continued the healing ministry of Jesus. In truth, Jesus Himself healed the man in precisely the same way He did when He traveled the roads of Galilee and Judea. But only this time, through the empowered words and faith of His servant Peter. To be sure, Jesus was still walking among His disciples in the Person and Power of the Holy Spirit. This, too, was the fulfillment of Jesus’ teachings and His promises.
This meant that, by the Holy Spirit and through His present Power, the ministry of Jesus Christ was carried-on on the shoulders of those whom He commissioned for this task; and Jesus continued to affirm the ministry of those whom He had called to service. Peter and John were carrying on with their lives, interacting and fellowshipping with their neighbors and the people around them. Part of their routine was going to the Temple for prayer and worship.
Once they received the promised Power by the Holy Spirit, they did not isolate themselves from their community. They no longer confined themselves to the isolated comfort of the assembly of their companions in faith. They went out into the world and blazed the light of the Gospel directly into the dark world around them. They lived and served by faith with courage.
The same call to service is issued to all who are made new in Christ. The same Power and courage is given to those who belong to Christ.
- Like Peter and John, we must continue in prayer and worship with fellow believers.
- Like Peter and John, the lame and the lost are all around us still.
- Like Peter and John, we are commissioned to invoke the Name of Jesus Christ and offer His Grace under the direction and empowering prerogatives of the Holy Spirit.
- Like Peter and John, we must be truthful, faithful, courageous, unassuming, and modest.
- Like Peter and John, our senses must be exercised to discern the Will of God concerning those whose path of life we cross.
- Like Peter and John, we must go about our daily business with one thing on our minds: Our commitment to serve God and to be His witnesses, for we are the light and the salt of Christ in this dark and tasteless world.