There is a very intriguing story found in the Bible in Acts 3. At first glance, it is the story of a forty-something-year-old man, who had been lame from birth.
This birth defect had caused him to become a beggar. Each day, someone would deliver him to the gate, called Beautiful, at the temple in Jerusalem, and he would begin with his ritual chant, "Alms for the poor, Alms for the poor!"
The Scripture tells us in Acts 3:1 that, "Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour." As Peter and John go into the temple, they walk by the man who was lame.
The Bible uses diseases to help teach spiritual lessons. In the Old Testament, the disease of leprosy illustrates the corruption that sin brings into a life. Many times, blindness is symbolic of the blindness to the things of God that sin causes. Lameness often illustrates what sin does in the heart of an individual.
Let's consider a bigger picture, for just a moment, and see this lame man in a spiritual way. The Bible says we are all made lame by sin. We are all born that way. Sin is a birth defect.
We know that when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, the entire human race fell. The Bible says in Romans 5:12, "For as by one man sin entered into the world and so death by sin." Sin causes us all to be spiritually lame. It cripples people emotionally, morally and spiritually. Sin causes us to beg. We are begging for something to satisfy, begging for something to answer the deepest needs of our hearts and lives.
As Christians, our mission is clear: We are here to help people crippled by sin into a relationship with the Great Physician, so they can be healed of their lameness and their need to beg.
After Peter and John meet the man, a miracle takes place. Acts 3:4 says, "and Peter fastened his eyes and looked upon him with John and said, look on us." The Bible says that the man looked up "expecting to receive something of them." He had a right to expect something of them. This man was looking for a handout.
What he thought he needed was something that would enable him to buy a little more food or maybe even buy some pleasure to take his mind off his misery for a while. Peter and John didn't have what the man wanted; they had what he needed.
The people who do not know Christ do not find what they are looking for in social networks, substance or human relationships. They are looking to the things they can humanly grasp to give, at best, only a temporary relief. They go to a movie for a while and they get a mental escape for a little bit. They watch a television program and they get a little relief from their misery. They try drugs or they try alcohol.
They do something else to try to find some temporary relief, but when it wears off, the misery is still there. No philosophy, no materialism, nothing that this world has to offer can solve the deepest problems of the human existence. This man didn't just need money. This man needed healing for his crippled legs. We need healing for our crippled lives.
Verse 6 is one of my favorite verses. Peter says, "Silver and gold have I none." Peter is not apologizing for his lack of money, he is bragging about his more-than-abundant Savior. He is saying, "I have something better to give you than a handout. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." The lame man was healed.
This miracle was amazing. However, it was not the point of the story. That's why we must look beyond the physical miracle and understand that the miracle points us to a deeper truth, the power of the Gospel to change lives. The lame man was not the only one healed that day. Acts 4:4 tells us that 5,000 people became followers of Christ.
Was the miracle amazing? Yes! However, the greater work is a changed life through Christ. You may be crippled by sin, but when Christ comes into your life, He can lift you from that lameness and can make you whole and give you a brand new life.
God used the miracle to draw a crowd. He used Peter to preach to the crowd that gathered so that HE could heal their lives for all eternity. God has a plan for your life and He wants to use you in His redemptive work. I hope you are involved in a church that preaches the Bible and encourages you to be active in sharing the Good News of Jesus.
Rev. Chris Reynolds is pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Christian Academy in Jonesboro.