In our reading today Peter and John heal a beggar who is unable to walk. If you haven’t read it already, you can find the story in Acts 3:1-10.
Peter and John are great friends. They have been friends since youth, working the fishing boats together and then following Jesus, apprenticing with Jesus during his ministry. Let’s not forget too that it was John who gave Peter access to the Palace of the High Priest during Jesus’ trial. John would have no doubt witnessed Peter’s denial. But despite this, John and Peter are evidently still very good friends.
At this time it was traditional for Jews to spend time in personal prayer 3 times a day. At 9:00 in the morning, midday and at 3pm in the afternoon. Although personal prayer 7 times a day was a practice for those that wanted to be super devout.
3:00 prayers was the time when people would stand outside the temple praying while the priest inside burned incense and made a sacrifice on behalf of the people.
Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, was a medical doctor and so he puts in all these little details about some of the people who are ill. He explains that the man has been unable to walk all of his life. His friends carried him to the outer courts of the temple every day where he was able to beg. Being crippled, he probably wasn’t allowed into the main temple himself and being unable to walk and therefore work meant that begging was probably his only option.
Generosity was often linked to devotion to God so begging in a place where others wanted to be seen as devoted was probably a profitable place.
Peter and John’s mission to attend 3:00 prayers is interrupted by this man calling out for money.
Both Peter and John look the lame man in the eye. I should image that people didn’t look at him that closely very often. That maybe people walked past and avoided eye contact so that they didn’t feel obliged to make a donation.
Not only did they look him in the eye, they demanded that he look directly back at them too. I wonder what they each saw when they looked eye to eye? We are told that the lame man expected that he would get a few coins. But I think Peter and John saw something much deeper.
Peter explains that he and John don’t have any money. Whether they don’t have money on them or whether the only money they have is part of a community pot, that they are not at liberty to spend we don’t know.
What the two disciples do have is the authority of the Kingdom of God to perform a miracle.
Do you remember when we talked about the Lord’s prayer and the line that we talked about ‘Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven’? We said that there was no sickness in Heaven and we should pray for people who are sick so that they will be healed.
Then we talked about the Centurion in the Roman army who understood that Jesus had the authority to heal people. It is the same authority that Jesus passed on to his followers, partly during his ministry and fully after his death, resurrection and that first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on his followers.
It is the same authority that that is passed on to us as believers. When we pray in Jesus name we pray claiming that same authority.
But Peter didn’t pray for the man’s healing. He didn’t ask God to heal the man. He simply told the man ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ It was a command given in the name of Jesus Christ.
A few days ago we read about the man that was deaf and mute that Jesus healed with a command. Peter and John are simply doing the same thing. They are simply doing what Jesus did.
As Peter takes the beggar’s hand, the man’s ankles grow strong and he is able to stand for the first time in his life.
Can you imagine the joy? He doesn’t just stand up, he leaps up. He enters the Temple compound for the first time and climbs up 15 steps to get into the Temple itself.
Of course everyone sees the commotion that he is making and they are astonished!
Peter and John had somewhere to be. But they allowed this lame beggar, someone who everyone else overlooked, to interrupt their day, to stop them and prevent them from continuing their journey. And in doing so, they had the opportunity to pray. They saw a miracle, gave a man the use of his legs, gave him some dignity and the ability to earn a living.
Tonight, let’s pray for God interruptions to our day. Let us never be too busy or in too much of a rush that we become like everyone else and overlook those in need and let’s take every opportunity to pray for others, pray prayer commands that we might see miracles, people healed, people given dignity and people restored. In Jesus name.