ACTS CHAPTER 3.
The Healing of the Lame Man. Acts 3, 1-11.1
The lame beggar: V.1. Now Peter and John went up together into the Temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. V.2. And a certain man lame from his motherís womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the Temple; v.3. who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple, asked an alms. Of the many signs and wonders which the apostles performed for the confirmation of their teaching, chap. 2, 43, Luke here narrates one which stands out from the rest by virtue of the amount of attention it attracted. The disciples, after the ascension of Christ and even after the Day of Pentecost, did not abandon the usages of the Jewish religion which did not conflict with the teaching of Jesus. (So also Luther, with conservative tact, did not permit iconoclastic tendencies to direct his reformatory labors.) As before, they observed the Jewish hours of prayer. At the ninth hour, that is, at three oíclock in the afternoon, the time of the evening sacrifice, Peter and John went up into the Temple to pray. At that time the prayers of the believers were wafted upwards as incense sweet in the nostrils of God, and the lifting up of their hands accompanied the bringing of the evening sacrifice. But when the two apostles arrived at the Temple, they were halted by a peculiar circumstance. A certain man, who had been lame from his birth, and could in no way walk, but had to be carried about from one place to another, was daily placed by some friends or acquaintances at that gate of the Temple which was known as ďThe Beautiful,Ē there to follow his profession as beggar by soliciting alms from the visitors to the Temple. The Temple itself was situated on an eminence overlooking the city, whence the apostles were obliged to go up to visit its courts and halls. ďEither the gate that opened out of the Court of the Women to the eastward, or the one between the Court of the Women and the Court of Israel (it is uncertain which one) had been given by one Nicanor and was of fine Corinthian bronze. It was sometimes called ĎThe Gate Beautifulí and sometimes ĎNicanorís Gate.í It was by this gate, and so near the treasury where people were devoting their money to religion, that Peter and John found the lame man begging.Ē 11) The lame man had probably seen Peter and John often, but this was the occasion on which the Lord wanted to show him an act of especial mercy. He looked at the two apostles as they were about to enter, and asked to receive an alms from them.
The miracle of healing: V.4. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. V.5. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. V.6. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. V.7. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ankle-bones received strength. V.8. And he, leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the Temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. V.9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. V.10. And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. V.11. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomonís, greatly wondering. The attention of the apostles having thus been directed to the beggar, whom they otherwise might have passed, as they probably had done scores of times, Peter looked at him very intently. His heart was deeply moved at the helpless and pitiable condition of the cripple, and his earnest gaze may have held something of that wonderful sympathy which had so often shone forth from his Masterís face. Then he asked the beggar to look at him and John, with the intention of exciting his curiosity and attention, in order that the man might at once be conscious of the source of the miraculous cure. And as the cripple concentrated his attention upon the two apostles, expecting, of course, to receive some gift from them, Peter simply, but impressively, said to him: Silver and gold have I none; these he did not number among his possessions, thus sharing the condition of his Lord and of many servants of the Lord since his time. Worldly belongings were not included in his treasures; but what he did have was sure and lasting. And this Peter was willing to give, to share with the poor man. The power to perform miracles for the sake of establishing the Gospel had been given to the apostles, and Peter proposed to use this power for the healing of this unfortunate cripple. And so his command rang out: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk. Peterís power to perform miracles was not absolute, he held it only by the command, in the power, and in the interest of his Lord and Master Jesus, and could use it only in His name. And then Peter took hold of the manís hand, grasping him firmly to give him confidence, and lifted him up, drew him upright. The miracle was performed at once. The manís feet became solid under his weight and his ankles firm; both bones and muscles received not only the strength, but also the ability to use this strength properly. Even while Peter still had hold of his hand, he jumped up; he stood upright first, as if to test the weight on his feet, or to feel the sensation of maintaining an upright position. And then he freely walked about, with no trace of lameness; he even went with Peter and John into the Temple, into the Court of Israel, the place where the men worshiped. And again and again, in the fullness of his joy, he walked about and even leaped, as though he felt constrained to convince himself that he was not dreaming, but that the miracle was a fact. His worshiping on that afternoon was done from the depth of a heart overflowing with thankfulness, wherefore he also praised God, giving all glory and honor to Him, to whom Peter had referred in his command of healing. All this, of course, was not done without attracting notice. Great numbers of people were at this time entering the Temple for the evening sacrifice, and they recognized the man that was walking about and leaping in the joy of his heart as the beggar whom they had often seen at the gate of the Temple. The conclusion in the matter was evident. A miracle had been performed which agitated and shocked them, filled them with wonder and amazement. Their astonishment was mixed with admiration and awe verging almost upon stupor. But there could be no doubt as to the actuality of the happening. For there was the man clinging to the apostles as his benefactors; there were the expressions of his joy and gratitude; there was the fact that he could walk and leap. It was not long, therefore, before all the people that had come into the Temple, forgetting the evening sacrifice and the time of incense, crowded about Peter and John, who had now come out into the beautiful portico or hall known as Solomonís Porch. Note: Every one that has experienced the help of the Lord should give all due praise and thanks to Him and confess His blessings before men. Mark also: Though the gifts of miracles and extraordinary performances of miracles were a special distinction of the apostolic Church, yet the Lordís hand is not shortened for the performing of miracles in the Church. The miracles of His grace, above all, are of such a nature as to provoke the admiration of even the children of the world at times.
The Address of Peter in the Temple. Acts 3, 12-26.
An emphatic application of the Law: V.12. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? V.13. The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. V.14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; v.15. and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead, where of we are witnesses. In this account, as well as in that of the previous chapter, one must marvel at the boldness of Peter. He who but a few weeks before had quailed before the scorn of a maid-servant and shamefully denied his Master, here speaks in the presence of a great multitude, in the Temple-hall itself, and throws the accusation of murder into the teeth of the Jews. Peter saw with dismay that the admiration of the people was directed toward John and himself. And so he proceeds at once to correct this false idea. The men of Jerusalem should not be filled with surprise and wonder, nor should they stare at them as though in their own power or on account of their own holiness they had caused the man to walk. Peter denies that he and John possessed either such a physical power as the people imagined, or such a worthy condition and ability of the soul. The admiration of the people should be directed to the real Author of the miracle, whose unworthy agents and servants the apostles but were. And in giving the glory to the heavenly Father and the exalted Christ alone, Peter brings out the guilt of the Jews all the more strongly. The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, of whom the Jews were wont boastfully to speak as the God of their fathers, had glorified His Child, His Son, in this miracle, for it was performed in the name, in the power, of Jesus Christ. In glaring contrast to this truth stood the fact that they had delivered Jesus into the power of the Roman governor, and had heaped shame and abuse upon Him. The Jews had blasphemously denied their Lord before Pilate; the heathen judge had been ready to give Him His liberty. The Holy and Just One, the only person that truly merited these attributes in all the wide world, the Jews had denied; they had demanded, with every form of cajolery and threat, that a murderous person be granted to them as a Passover boon, that Barabbas be released to them. The Jews had killed, murdered, Jesus; and He was the Prince of Life, the Author, the Source of life. Over against the entire behavior of the Jews, therefore, stands the manner of Godís witnessing for Jesus, whom He h a s raised from the dead, a fact to which all the apostles could bear most emphatic witness. Thus only the miracle could be explained.
The basis of the present facts in prophecy: V.16. And His name, through faith in His name, hath made this man strong whom ye see and know; yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. V.17. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. V.18. But those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled. Peter had preached the Law to the assembled Jews; he had shown them the heinousness of their transgression against their Lord and Savior; he had forced upon them the conviction that they were most seriously guilty in the sight of God. So far as the miracle was now concerned, over which they were so astounded, the explanation was very simple. It had been performed in the name of Jesus, through His power. On the basis of faith in Jesus, by faith in Jesus, His Word and His promise, Mark 16, 17. 18; John 16, 23, the name of Christ and the power which is contained in His name had strengthened this cripple whom they saw and knew; that was as far as the participation of the apostles in the miracle was concerned. And as for the lame man, the faith which is through Christ, which is given by Him, had granted to the unfortunate man full and perfect health and strength in the presence of this audience, before their very eyes. The explanation then, briefly, was this: The power, the majesty, of the exalted Christ had worked through the apostles, and the sick man had accepted the gift of health by faith.
So much having been established, Peter now brings the consolation of the Gospel to the sinners. He addresses the people present as brethren. He concedes that their horrible crime was committed because of ignorance, and that their rulers may be excused on the same plea. Their guilt was still there, but it was less than if they had committed the crime with full knowledge and deliberate intent. And the counsel and plan of God was thereby carried out. What He had proclaimed in advance through the mouth of all the prophets, namely, that Christ, Godís Christ, must suffer in this manner, had been fulfilled in the Passion of Jesus as it had taken place. In this way only was it possible to deliver Israel and the entire sinful world from all sin and guilt. The blood and death of Jesus is actually the ransom for the sins of the whole world. For since He is the Prince, the Source, the Author of life, it is God's martyrdom, Godís blood, Godís death which is placed in the balance. And God the Father has accepted the sacrifice, He is reconciled to sinners. This fact He has unmistakably confirmed by raising Jesus from the dead and by glorifying and exalting Him to the right hand of His majesty. All this is heavenly comfort for poor sinners.
The way of forgiveness: V.19. Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; v.20. and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; v.21. whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. The ignorance of the Jews had been admitted by Peter in extenuation of their guilt, but it by no means rendered them innocent. He urges them therefore to repent, to have a complete change of mind and heart take place in them, and to be converted, to turn again, to turn about completely to the expunging of their sins. Every one that turns from his sins to Christ, the Savior of sinners, will have his sins taken away, blotted out completely. Faith receives the forgiveness of sins, and where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. And this conversion should be made promptly, without delay, that there may come special seasons of refreshment, in order that times of recreation, of refreshing, of renewing from the face of the Lord may come, and also that the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus, may be sent. Jesus was not only the Messiah in whom the covenant made with David was fulfilled, but He is also the Lord, the Messianic King, who will return in glory at the last day. When Jesus, whom now, by Godís decree, the heavens have received, and who possesses all heavens, will return at the appointed time, then the everlasting seasons of the restitution of all things will begin, of which God has spoken through the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. The time when this wonderful change may be expected is altogether in the hands of God and may come without warning. It is of great importance, then, that repentance and conversion take place as soon as possible, without delay. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation, 2 Cor. 6,2.
A final exhortation: V.22. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord, your God, raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. V.23. And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people. V.24. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. V.25. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy Seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. V.26. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning a way every one of you from his iniquities. That Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah appointed to the Jews, and that the prophecies were fulfilled in Him, Peter brings out in the last part of his discourse. Moses had made a clear statement in one of his last prophecies to the Israelites in the wilderness, one that did not refer to a mere human prophet, but to One whose words would demand absolute obedience. Moses had spoken of this Prophet that was to come as being like unto himself. As Moses was the mediator between God and the people, both in conveying Godís messages to them and in standing between the dead and the living, so Jesus is the true Mediator between God and sinful mankind; as Moses was the deliverer of his people when he led them out of the house of Egypt's bondage, so Jesus had delivered all men from the bondage of sin, death, and damnation. The Prophet, therefore, whom Moses had in mind can be no one else than Jesus Christ. This greatest Prophet of all the Jews must obey, as the prophecy of Moses demanded, Deut. 18, 15. 18. 19, in all His teaching to them. The penalty of disobedience, as Moses had said, was that it would be required of every such defiant person, usually by the sentence of death, Ex. 12, 15. 19; Lev. 17, 4. 9. Peter here gives a transcription and explanation of the words of Moses by saying that every soul that was guilty of willfully disobeying this great Prophet should be utterly destroyed from the people, should be punished with eternal condemnation. And Moses does not stand alone with his testimony, but his prophecy is seconded and corroborated by that of all the prophets of old, beginning with Samuel, as the founder of the schools of the prophets. As many as spoke prophecies made proclamation of these days, the days of Christ and the Messianic kingdom with all their promises of salvation. All the comfort of these prophecies and promises, as Peter finally assured his hearers, was intended for them, and should be a source of rejoicing to them. The Jews were proud of their descent and of their nation, and in a way they had reasons to be. For they were children of the prophets and of the covenant which God had set forth and established with their fathers. They were heirs, above all, of the promise which God made to Abraham, Gen. 12, 3; 18, 18; 22, 18, to Isaac, Gen. 26, 4, and to Jacob, Gen. 28, 14, in which He stated that all families, kindreds, generations, or peoples should be blessed in their Seed, in their great Descendant, Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus Christ the blessing of full salvation, of complete redemption, has come to all people in the entire world, not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. But the Jews had been granted the first opportunity of enjoying the blessings of the risen Lord, just a s Jesus had spent the time of His ministry exclusively in their midst. God, having raised up His Child, His Son, from the dead, and thus sealed the acceptance of the redemption made by Him, sent Him to bless, to bring the blessings of this redemption to, the Jews, through the work of the apostles. All the blessings and benefits of the Savior would be transmitted to them in and by conversion, in this, that He turns every one from his iniquities. That is the will of God with regard to every sinner, that he turn from all his evil ways and transgressions and accept the blessings of Christ and His atonement.
Summary. Peter heals a lame man at the gate of the Temple, whereupon the astonishment of the people gives him occasion to speak to them of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and His atonement.