Chapter 7: A brand new walk
1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And 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; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then 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.’ 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then 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.
A lame beggar asks for ‘alms’—and gets legs!
Peter and John now use the power the Holy Spirit gives to the apostles to heal.1 This emphasises the authority God gives them to preach the good news about Jesus Christ. It is 3 o’clock in the afternoon.2 As they approach the Temple to pray they pass by the ‘Beautiful Gate’ of the Temple.
For an unnamed beggar, lame from birth, today is just another normal sad day. Others placed him there again to beg. He hopes for money or food from kind passers-by.3 Perhaps this beggar feels that God-fearing Jews going to pray in the Temple are an ‘easy touch’ for him. He is more likely to receive sympathy—and cash—from believers in God like them than from others. As he asks the two apostles to give him something, they gaze at him. Peter says ‘Look at us’. Any rising hopes he has of charity are immediately dashed, however, by Peter’s next sentence! ‘Silver and gold I do not have’. But before disappointment can settle in the poor beggar’s sad mind, the apostle suggests something much better!
An unexpected offer
Peter starts by making it clear that it is only ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’ that he can make his offer which is more valuable than silver and gold The lame beggar has, no doubt, often heard passers-by discussing Jesus Christ. His matchless teaching, staggering miracles, and His claims to be God in the flesh have been on everyone’s lips. But His death on Calvary’s cross, and the claims of many folk that they have met Jesus since then, now risen from the dead, is still a main topic of conversation. So is all this talk about Galileans speaking foreign languages perfectly and without a trace of an accent. As a ‘Temple beggar’ he probably heard that the thick veil, separating the Temple’s holy place from the most holy place, was recently torn in two from top to bottom as Jesus died.4 If so, has he worked out that the way to God is now open to all sinners because Jesus died and bore our sins in His own body on the cross?5
But what does Peter now offer him in the name of Jesus? ‘In the name of Jesus Christ—walk!’ What did he say? Walk? After all this time—walk? Yes! Walk! ‘In the name of Jesus Christ—walk!’
A miraculous result
Peter knows very well that only Jesus can work this miracle to make the lame man walk. But he wants to encourage him to respond by putting his faith in Christ as his Lord and Saviour.
Peter grabs his right hand and helps him up. Who is most excited by the immediate and miraculous result? Is it the beggar or the two apostles? With newly strengthened feet and ankles the ‘lame’ beggar now leaps, stands, and walks. He then enters the Temple with them. Can anyone witnessing this amazing act of God doubt Jesus Christ’s power, or the truth of the gospel preached by His apostles? It’s as if this miracle insists to all, ‘You must believe in the risen Jesus: you must trust the message of forgiveness through His death on the cross that these men bring to you.’
But the miracle also illustrates how God works to change us. Our sins have disabled us morally: we cannot walk in His righteous ways. We are morally and spiritually lame and powerless.
We cannot cure ourselves or save ourselves. Nor can any religion put us right, even if it is called ‘Christian’. Only trusting the Lord Jesus Christ personally can make the difference!
The name, Jesus means God saves. To believe in His name, means we believe He can save us from our sins.6 He alone can forgive our sins, enter our lives through the Holy Spirit, and enable us to walk a new walk with Him. Jesus walked to the cross to bear our sins and punishment. He walked in His resurrection power with the two sad travellers to Emmaus7 and changed them completely. Jesus enables those who receive Him into their hearts by faith also to walk with Him by faith.8 Just as the ex-beggar leaps for joy, stands straight, and goes to a place of worship along with Jesus’ disciples to praise God there, so we too can know His ‘joy inexpressible and full of glory’,9 stand straight morally, and worshipfully praise the Lord who has saved us and blessed us! It is a miracle of God’s grace.
An immediate impact
I wonder what the average Temple-goer thinks in that Temple court as he looks on. May we use our imaginations? What is all that commotion? I wanted some peace and quiet here in the Temple! But who is that guy jumping all over the place and shouting ‘Praise the Lord!’? Didn’t those two guys with him speak in those other languages at Pentecost? Didn’t one of them tell us to repent and trust Jesus Christ? My mates said they were drunk, but they seemed sober to me.
Hang on! He’s that lame Temple beggar from the Beautiful Gate! He’s often asked me for money! But how can it be? A few minutes ago I saw him begging at that gate again. I’m off to ask those two what it’s all about. Perhaps I can also get some sense out of that lame—well ‘unlame’ now—beggar. But he seems too happy to talk sense right now!
The crowd is absolutely staggered, very impressed, but completely bewildered by the change in the once-lame beggar. So today, when the watching world sees a surprising change in a man or woman, which is different but just as striking as for that beggar, it is speechless. When selfish, dishonest, and immoral people suddenly change direction and start talking enthusiastically about Jesus, it is hard to understand, unless you have experienced the same blessing.
Charlie was a young violent inmate in a London prison. In his violent mood he said, ‘I would do anything’. During his long sentence he attended a weekly Bible study. After a few weeks he trusted Christ as his Saviour. He was transferred to another prison. An experienced staff member there could not understand his violent criminal record, such is the amazing change in him in a few months. Charlie explains: ‘I trusted Jesus as my Saviour. I felt dead inside before. Now I am alive!’ Fellow prisoners try to work out how he ‘ticks’. Unless Jesus changes them too, they may never know.
I felt like that when my sister’s life changed after she received Christ. I told her defiantly, ‘It will never happen to me’. The rest is history! Jesus saved me and is changing me still. Do you know anyone whose life has been turned upside down—or, rather, the right way up—by personal faith in Christ? Jesus described this change as being born again.10
The Bible says, ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’.11 Going through religious observances or doing our best can never save us from our sins.12 Becoming ‘a new creation’ in Christ does. This radical personal change within comes when you own up to your sin, turn from it, and surrender your heart to Christ. With your past forgiven, your life changed, and Heaven to come, you know you have been ‘born again’. Are you born again? You can be if you believe in Jesus Christ to save you.13
Questions on Chapter 7
A Brand New Walk—Acts 3:1–10
A. Consider the lame beggar. How does his miraculous healing help to further the work of the gospel? How does it also illustrate what a new walk with God through Christ means?
Acts 3:9–10, 3:12, Colossians 2:6–7, Ephesians 5:8, 1 John 1:6–7
B. What part did (a) Peter and John and (b) the beggar himself play in the miraculous healing. What did God do that they could never do? What parallels can you find between this healing and a sinner coming to faith in Christ?
Acts 3:1–7, Acts 16:28–33
C. Imagine you are looking on as the healed beggar leaps past you in the Temple area. What three things do you think would impress you most, and why? What can a Christian today do to influence others for the good news of Jesus Christ? How can that happen?
Acts 3:6–10, Matthew 5:16, 2 Corinthians 4:1–6
- 2 Corinthians 12:12, Luke 10:9 ↩
- The ninth hour in Jerusalem then was three hours after mid-day (3.00pm). This was one of the three Jewish times of prayer. The other two prayer times were the third hour (9.00 am) and the sixth hour (mid-day, i.e. 12 noon). ↩
- Money or food given to poor people are called alms, according to The Oxford Dictionary. ↩
- Luke 23:44–46 ↩
- 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 10:19 ↩
- Matthew 1:21 ↩
- Luke 24:13-15 ↩
- Colossians 2:6 ↩
- 1 Peter 1:8 ↩
- John 3:3, 7 ↩
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 ↩
- Ephesians 2:8-9 ↩
- John 3:16 ↩