Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Miracle at the Beautiful Gate

​ Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Act 3:1-10)
Peter and John go up to the temple at the hour of prayer. This term gets used quite a bit in Acts. We learn from it that the disciples were very intentional about prayer. Actually this was a common time for the Jewish people to pray. There were a few of these hours throughout the day, morning, noon, and evening. Many of them corresponded with the different sacrifices being offered in the temple, as did the ninth hour. This was the evening. The son would be declining on the other side of the Kidron Valley, falling upon the Mount of Olives and casting it’s red glow upon the golden limestone of Jerusalem as the disciples made their way through the beautiful gate.
They were pious Jews. The believed that the temple was God’s house, that the scriptures were God’s word. They had no qualm worshiping with others who believed the same. But they also believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and not everyone they gathered with for prayer that day was willing to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus. The smoke from the evening sacrifice began to fill their nostrils with the aroma pleasing to God, as the throng of worshipers made their way by the lame man strategically placed to garner sympathy. How could one enter the temple with a hardened heart that would not support the poor with alms? I imagine that most found him to be an unwelcome nuisance. Perhaps they were embarrassed by their own greediness as they passed him. Perhaps they muttered something about him just wasting it on wine. Only to remember the proverb telling them it is precisely to such people that you are to give strong drink and wine. Perhaps most of them found themselves to be like John and Peter, broke, having left their wallet at home and not intending to buy anything.
But John and Peter stop anyway. They have no silver or gold. What they have is something infinitely more precious. The salvation of Jesus Christ what was purchased not with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ like a lamb without blemish, his innocent suffering and death. And this they would bestow upon this man today in miraculous fashion, in such a manner that others would worship Christ with them. And in Christ’s name they tell the man to walk, and in the name of Jesus he does, and the whole crowd rejoices. The disciples perform the miracle, and the miracle creates faith. So it is always a miracle, an act of divine intervention when a soul comes to believe. The man didn’t walk because he had faith, but made to walk he was given faith, him and many others who rejoiced with him. If Jesus was the criminal and sinner the leaders had made him out to be, how could it be that his disciples were able to make a lame man walk in his name?

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