The people in the temple came running from all directions! Once again something truly incredible had taken place – a miracle! And there he was! The beggar they’d seen almost every day on their way to the temple. But HE WAS no longer sitting on the floor with his mis-shapen and useless ankles and feet in front of him, instead he was jumping and walking and praising God while hanging on to a couple of men as he learnt how to balance on feet that’d never walked before! What was happening? What had these men done? How’d he been healed so completely and so quickly? A crowd started to gather around the three men, and then one of the men motioned for silence and shouted out in a loud voice, ‘Men of Israel, why do you look at us as though we’ve made this man walk by our own power? No! It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our Fathers who has brought glory to Jesus by doing this thing!’ (P)
‘This thing,’ the healing of the lame man, had happened just five minutes before. Peter and John, apostles of Jesus, had been on their way to the temple to take part in the afternoon prayer service when, at the same time, a man crippled from birth in his ankles and feet had been brought to sit at the temple gate called ‘Beautiful’. Each day he was carried to the temple to beg for money from the people going in, hoping that a few of them would give him something.
As Peter and John were about to enter through the temple gate, the man asked them for money. (P) That’s when things started to happen that no one expected. Somehow the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter and John and both of them stopped and looked intently at the man.
‘Look at us!’ Peter said, and the lame man looked up at them, certain they were going to give him some money! But instead of getting out his purse, Peter spoke. ‘I don’t have silver or gold to give you,’ he said, and a slightly puzzled look came over the beggar’s face. ‘But what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!’
After saying this, Peter leant forward, took the man by the right hand and helped him to his feet! And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles which had been so useless that he’d never walked, were healed and strengthened! As Peter helped him, the lame man, now completely healed - jumped up, stood on his feet and began to walk! He’d never walked before in his whole life! Then, walking, leaping into the air and praising God, the three of them went into the Temple together!
That’s when the commotion took place and everyone rushed over to them. The man couldn’t hold himself back as he learnt to walk while holding tightly on to Peter and John, and in a loud voice he praised God that he’d been healed! So there they were, a vast crowd surrounding them, while Peter spoke to them all about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one who’d been crucified a few months earlier.
‘The Jesus who’s healed this man,’ Peter continued, ‘is the same Jesus YOU handed over and rejected in front of Pilate even though Pilate had decided to let Him go!’
Many of them could remember the day they’d stood before Pilate, and the mood of the crowd as they’d shouted for Barabbas to be released. And then, when Pilate had asked, how they’d screamed for Jesus to be crucified!
But Peter was still talking, ‘You rejected the holy, righteous One and instead demanded the release of a murderer. You killed the author of life, but God – raised Him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this FACT! It is by trusting in the name of Jesus that this complete healing has come about - as you can all see.’
A terrible feeling of guilt came over the crowd as Peter carried on, ‘Brothers, I know that what you did to Jesus was done because you didn’t realise who He was, and the same can be said of your leaders. But when it happened, God was at work fulfilling what the prophets had said about the Messiah beforehand – that He must suffer these things. Now turn away from your sins and turn back to God so that you can be made clean from your sins and so that wonderful times of refreshment can come from the Lord …’
But even while Peter spoke, and the crowd marvelled at the wonderful healing of the man and all that Peter was telling them about Jesus, worried and hate-filled eyes looked on – ready to silence the apostles!