Posted: 10/3/16 at 10:25am. Column by Ed Jordan.
There was once a man who had been lame from birth. He lived several thousand years ago, long before our modern hospitals and medical procedures could have helped him. The man I am speaking of lived in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Since this man was unable to walk, and therefore unable to work, someone carried him to sit just outside the Temple in order to beg for people to give alms to him. Ironically, he was daily taken to sit outside a gate known as the Beautiful Gate.
In Judaism at that time, the giving of alms was perceived as something which gained one favor with God, so this man was carried to a place where he was the most likely to find generous people and receive alms from them as they went in to worship.
So for perhaps forty years this man’s daily life consisted of sitting just outside the Beautiful Gate, which was one of the entrances through which worshippers entered the Beautiful Temple in Jerusalem. Now while this event is the record of a real event, it is also an amazing metaphor.
How is it a metaphor you might ask? This man spent every day sitting just out of reach of the Beautiful Gate. He sat there day after day, year after year, receiving quick fixes from the donations given to him. But the next day, he would need more donations.
He sat and watched others who could walk, who with joy and excitement would enter the Temple in order to meet with God and offer prayers, and experience God’s intervention in their lives. He could look inside, but couldn’t go in. So close, and yet so far away.
This is the story of many people today. They are so busy trying to get enough money to live, and they long for the beautiful life. They are near the entrance, but they are unable to enter and experience it. Many long to know God, but feel crippled and unable to reach Him. They can only sit near the entrance and dream about what it would be like to enter into God’s presence, to be able to walk in, and leap for joy.
As Peter and John approached the Temple to go in to pray, this man began to pay attention to them, and I am sure began to ask them to give him alms. He expected to get something from them (cf. Acts 3:5). Then we read what happened in Acts 3:6–8 (NLT):
“But Peter said, ‘I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!’ Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.”
We can only give people what we have. The disciples didn’t have silver or gold to give to the man. But that didn’t stop them from trying to help him. Peter told the man that he would give to him what he did have to give, which was Jesus and the power of the resurrection.
So Peter took the man’s hand and raised him up. The man’s crippled and lame ankles and feet straightened out, were healed and made strong. The man stood up, tested his legs, then took off running and jumping, and shouting praises to God. He walked with them through the Beautiful Gate that he had always wanted to enter.
While our physical maladies are not always healed in this lifetime, the metaphor reveals that Jesus can raise us up from sitting outside the beautiful presence of God, and give us a new life which allows us to enter into God’s presence.
And when God does this, the proper response is to go through the Beautiful Gate and into the awesome presence of God, with joy and gratitude, with new capabilities and perspective on life.
If you find yourself sitting outside the beautiful presence of God, realize that He is holding out His hand to you and telling you: “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, stand up and walk!” Take God’s hand and walk with Him into a whole new dimension of life!