In acts 2:43 we read of many wonders and miraculous signs done by the apostles. Here we have the account of one such miracle. Luke, the author of Acts, was believed to be a doctor and his written account goes into some detail.
Peter and John, two of the key disciples of Jesus. They had seen Jesus at his Transfiguration and at his passion in the garden of Gethsemane; they had raced each other to the tomb to find it empty on resurrection morning; now they seemed to be very close in the work of the gospel together. Both had brothers also among the first disciples, (Andrew and James, see Matt 4:18—21), but found they worked better together than with their respective brothers. The bond of friendship can be stronger than natural relationship, Proverbs 18:24) In verse 19 of Matt 4 Jesus says he would make them “fishers of men”, well now they are going to the temple; here they would find shoals of “fish” among which they could cast their gospel “net”!
They were about to enter the temple courts, the area where Jesus had turned over the money changers tables (Matthew 21:12) It was the 9th hour, the Hour of prayer. The Jewish day was divided into 12 hours and prayer would be offered at 3 set times, our 9am, 12 noon and 3pm (Ps 55:16—17). This ritual got God fearing Daniel a spell in the lion’s den! (see Dan 6:10c).
Here doctor Luke describes the afflicted man in detail. He was lame from birth; he had never walked. His condition was not the result of some accident in life but a defect from birth and now the man was of some age (Acts 4:22). His legs and feet would have never born the man’s weight and would be hanging limp and useless as his friends carried him to the gateway to spend his day begging. My father told me when he was at school in the 1920’s he earned pocket money by pushing a neighbours lame son to school in a wheelbarrow!
The man was a familiar sight at the gate begging; he would be recognised by the people; they knew he was a genuine needy case and would be well prepared and presumably mentally inclined to give him a donation as they went to worship. The beggars know best where to sit!! (Luke 16:19—20).
Enter Peter and John. Peter pleads poverty but has something better to give, “in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”! Peter has no power of his own to change the man’s situation, but does it “in the Name”, (Mark 16:17—18). Peter later testifies to the healing being done in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Acts4:10). It was important to use his full title, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This title was the name given to Jesus among the Jews, and the name nailed to his cross (John 19:19), the man may well have heard of it. The man was about to be healed by the power and authority of a man crucified as a phony Messiah, a faker, a charlatan!
Jesus healed by his own authority; no praying over someone, just a word of authority, a direct command (John 5:8—9 Matt 9:6—7, Matt12:13). A response was required from the recipient of the healing in each case, no waiting for a “sign” (Luke17:12—14), or strength returning or anything like that. The healing was total, instant and went with the prompt response to Jesus command. So, in this case, as Peter said the word and offered his hand as encouragement, the man had to respond in faith and stand up as he had never done before. He stands! and to his amazement his feet and ankles have strength! Faith is a doing word, not a vague belief! If the man had made no effort, not responded in faith, he would have remained as he was. Now he gives God the glory and praise for his total restoration (v8), (not so much as a thank you to Peter), he knows the origin of his healing is from God! Here is fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 35:6), a natural response for someone unable to do this in 40 years. A further effect of this miracle is the man’s ability to walk and run and leap, fully in control, without any learning or practice. It is as natural as if from birth.
This miracle is a good illustration of the gospel. Jesus preached, “repent and believe the good news (gospel), Mark1:15”. All of mankind is born “lame”, unable to walk with God from birth, crippled spiritually by our inbred sin. We have no strength and are unable, by our own efforts, to change our situation. The man had been taken to the temple many times and it had not changed his lameness; church does not save us; faith in Christ does! Without a direct work of God, we will go through life living a part life, not fully enjoying all that a relationship with God has to offer. We need to hear of the gracious offer of forgiveness through Jesus death on the cross, and then, in faith respond to it. Millions will hear of Jesus and remain unmoved. A positive response from the heart is called for. God is reaching out his hand to us; we must make a decision to believe the offer and receive it (taste and see that the Lord is good, Psalm 34:8). The healing is instant! It depends on God’s work and not our own. Strength is imparted, sin forgiven and an everlasting relationship begins.
The man immediately goes into the temple courts to praise and worship God and to testify of the astounding work of renewal that had taken place. He points to Peter and John as the bearers of the “good news” to him, but gives God the full glory of the work done. The people recognise him as the cripple and know he is genuine and not a phoney, planted by the disciples. They are in wonder and amazement and are keen and open to hear and receive what the disciples have to share. Peter casts the “net” for a rich catch of “fish”! (Acts 3:11—20)