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The miraculous healing of the lame beggar

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” Acts 3:1–10

Background

As Peter and John approached the temple gate to pray, they encountered a beggar asking for money. Peter wasn’t able to meet the man’s specific request, but instead he stressed the much greater value of God’s healing and salvation over the value of money.

God’s healing isn’t just better—he also gives abundantly more than we ask for. The beggar didn’t ask to be healed since he believed he was incurable, he only thought to ask for what he needed to survive. But Peter and John’s initiative demonstrates God’s sovereign grace, acting through Jesus Christ, to rescue and restore those powerless to save themselves.

Observation

A multitude of miracles were performed after Pentecost (Acts 2:43), but Luke singled out this one. Because the beggar had been lame since birth, his healing uniquely demonstrates the immeasurable greatness of Jesus’ healing power (versus some solely physical act) and highlights the people’s amazement at God’s goodness.

  • What does the lame man asking for?
  • What active words catch your attention in this passage? Jot them down.
  • What does this passage say about the authority given to Peter and John?
  • How does the lame man respond to Peter and John, and to God?

Interpretation

Should we expect such miracles today? It may not be Pentecost, but Jesus’ power is still evident in the church today. We should not be surprised if we hear reports of miracles. [Ed.’s note: stay tuned to the blog for many stories of healing in our church this week!]

We serve a Mighty God who made all of creation and who raises the dead. Jesus’ healing comes in many forms: He takes away sin, shame, brokenness, and disease. He heals marriages and restores families. The list goes on.

  • In Verses 3–5, there is an exchange between Peter, John, and the lame man. Four different verbs linked with “seeing” were used. What are they?
  • Through what name did Peter and John heal the lame man? Why is this significant? (What would have happened if they hadn’t or used another name?)
  • How do Verses 9 and 10 describe the people’s response to the lame man’s new condition?

Application

This miracle story is similar in style and structure to many in the Gospels, particularly Jesus’ healing of the paralytic in Luke 5:17–26. A dire need is identified and met in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through Peter and John. The same power that was given to Peter and John works through us today. God invites us to be part of what he’s doing by playing an active role in the lives of those who are suffering and in need of healing.

  • Read James 5:13–16. What do these verses say about (1) our role in the church toward those who are suffering, and (2) how the Lord responds?
  • We can’t all identify with the physical needs of the lame man, but we can probably all relate to his feelings of helplessness. In what areas of your life do you hope for healing? Is it healing from the past? Is it physical in nature? Or maybe you desire freedom from a deep sense of shame? Spend some time praying specific prayers with one another, bringing your requests to Jesus.
  • God used Peter and John to heal the lame man. Peter showed both great boldness and genuine care in how he approached the man (Acts 3:4). Whom is God calling you to be an agent of grace and healing to and love boldly today?

For further study

Read Luke 5:17–26 and write down the similarities you see between this miracle and the healing of the paralytic.

This inductive study is adapted from Week 6 of the Acts Study Guide.

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