Read His Words Before Ours!
I noticed him straight away by the Beautiful Gate. It’s strange; I must have walked past him many times before, but as John and I approached the Temple, just in time for the afternoon prayer service, my attention was immediately drawn to the man.
He had been lame since birth, and he was over forty years old. Unable to earn a living any other way, his only hope was to beg for money from those visiting the Temple. I felt a pang of compassion as I saw him being carried there by friends and seated in his position by the gate.
“Please give me some money!”
As we got closer, he called out, his eyes lowered to the ground. Although he was not addressing his words particularly to us, and although we had no money, something made us stop, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. We had become familiar with the Holy Spirit’s work in recent days. On the day of Pentecost, God had filled us with His Spirit and empowered us as He promised He would. Where once we had been weak and fearful, now we were bold as we shared about Jesus, and miraculous signs and wonders were now regular occurrences.
I stood and gazed at the man, and my heart went out to him.
“Look at us,” I said. He raised his head eagerly, and I could see the hope in his eyes, the expectation that we were going to fulfil his request for money. But there was also something deeper, a glimmer of faith. Maybe the reason he sat outside the Temple each day wasn’t only because of the gathered crowds. Maybe his desperation had drawn him to the place of worship. I admired his hope and faith persisting after so many years.
I had no money, but I had something better to offer. I thought of all the times I had witnessed Jesus’ healing power as He cured the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and even raised the dead. His authority was so great He had healed a centurion’s servant without even visiting the man, just by saying the word from a distance. His desire was always to heal.
Even not so long ago, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus’ enemies came to arrest Him, He healed one of them! In my panicked attempt to defend Jesus, I had cut off a man’s ear, but Jesus simply told me to put my sword away, picked up the man’s ear, and restored it.
Now God had sent the Holy Spirit to fill us with the same power.
I knew what I had to do.
“I don’t have silver or gold,” I began, and the man’s face instantly fell. “But what I do have, I give you,” I continued. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”
He looked at me in confusion, so I reached out my hand, and as I helped him to his feet, his ankles were instantly healed and strengthened!
His eyes were wide as he began walking, hardly daring to believe it was true. At first his steps were small and tentative, but then they became bigger and more confident. Before long he was leaping and shouting praise to God, unable to contain his joy and exuberance.
As we entered the Temple, he came with us, praising God all the way, and clinging to us. Unsurprisingly, a crowd gathered to learn the cause of the commotion, and I could hear their incredulous conversations.
“Isn’t that the beggar who sits by the gate?”
“It can’t be – you know he can’t walk.”
“But it looks like him… It is… It must be…”
As the truth sank in, they were completely astounded!
They surrounded John and me, and I knew I had to set the record straight. It was an amazing opportunity to tell the people about the source of this awesome power.
Addressing the crowd, I explained the man had not been healed in our power, but by Jesus’ power and by faith in His name.
They knew about Jesus. Many of them had been there that awful day as He stood before Pilate. Many of them had shouted for Jesus to be put to death and for Barabbas to be freed. (Mark 15:6-15)
Yet, I felt no bitterness towards them. Jesus’ death had been part of God’s plan, and God had shown His power by raising Jesus from the dead. Their sin, all of our sin, had been the very reason Jesus came. His command to “love your enemies” came to mind (Matthew 5:44), and I longed for them to understand how they were just as much in need of healing as the man who was now able to walk for the first time. They did not need healing of the body, but healing of the heart. This was exactly what Jesus’ death had made possible, if only they would accept it.
“Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of
refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19-20)
The physical healing of the man pointed toward a deeper, spiritual healing each one of us needed, a healing available to all because of Jesus’ sacrifice and victory.
The fire in my belly, a longing for each wounded heart to meet its Healer, burned ever stronger. Where would He lead us next?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!