“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.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
Acts 3:6-8 (NKJV)
I have just started reading the Book of Acts, which details the formation of what we now call the Church, after Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven. It is such an amazing and challenging book. The other morning I was reading these verses in chapter 3 and I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you.
The context is that the disciples Peter and John have been going to the temple and preaching the Good News of the gospel. Thousands are repenting and putting their faith in Jesus Christ at every meeting. Now as Peter and John go to the temple at the time of prayer, 3:00pm (the Jews had three times a day when they used to pray), they come across a beggar who was lame from birth. This was by no means an uncommon place for beggars to be, since people would pass by often on their way to prayer, and many wanted to impress God by doing good works and making offerings.
The lame man asked Peter and John for alms. The verse than says:
And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” (verse 4)
I really appreciate how much attention Peter showed the man. Undoubtedly many people had completely ignored the beggar, or tossed money at him without even meeting his eyes.
So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. (verse 5)
This man was hoping for money, and had no idea that he would receive something far better. It makes me wonder how often I look to God as some kind of vending machine, praying for blessings. Not that it is wrong to pray for blessings or good outcomes, but I think sometimes I start using God like some magic lamp, and forget that He has already given me the greatest gift in the world: salvation.
Peter then says:
“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.”(verse 6)
Peter is right: the disciples were broke, but he could offer a gift far more precious than silver or gold. Through Jesus' name he healed this man and gave him freedom from his ailment. So too does Jesus offer us something more precious than silver or gold: freedom from our sins. Also note that when Jesus healed people, He just said "Rise, take up your bed and walk" (John 5:8), but Peter invokes the name of Jesus so the man knows that his healing came from Jesus.
And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. (verse 7)
Peter offered the man his hand, just as Jesus promises that He will reach out and save us if we repent of our sins and trust in Him. Then he will immediately cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
I love that the man didn't just slowly rise - he leapt up! The man who had been lame from birth leapt! Not only that, but he continued leaping and praising God. I think this really parallels our transformation through salvation. In our life before Christ, we are dead in our sins, children of wrath with no hope; then when God saves us, we are made alive, we become sons and daughters of God, and we are filled with hope and the joy of God. (Colossians 2:13)
Also note that the man didn't praise Peter but rather praised God, because Peter had told him that it was through the power of Jesus that he was healed.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 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. (verse 9-10)
So too should people see a transformation in us once we are saved, and it should cause them to be amazed at how God could save wretches and sinners like us - like me.
I hope these verses were as encouraging to you as they were to me.