"Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, 'Look at us.' So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.' And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." (Acts 3:1-10)
The story of the healing of this lame man, in so many ways, echoes the numerous other accounts of miraculous healings performed by Jesus and His disciples during their ministry. In case after case, we see someone who has been greatly afflicted find relief at the hand of God's workers, resulting in great joy in the one healed and great amazement in those who witnessed it. The parallels of this man's story to those who have been redeemed from sin have stood out in particular for me, though.
Like this man sitting and begging at the Beautiful Gate, we, for so long, spent our lives begging after the things we expected to bring us happiness. And just as this man must have sometimes received what he was asking for (or else why would he have expected it from Peter and John?), most of us have attained at least some of those things that we have been begging after only to find that they cannot fully sustain us and that we end up having to beg after these things daily.
But then we hear the invitation, "Rise and walk" (Acts 22:16; Romans 6:4). When we take His extended hand and allow Him to lift us up, immediately we receive the strength we need to so walk (Matthew 11:28-30). Yes, we receive the yoke of Christ, but in doing so we lay aside the terrible chains of sin (Romans 6:15-23).
This man's story did not end when he was healed, though. Consider his reaction: joy, praise, and manifestation of a difference evident to all. But is this where the similarities between this man's physical healing and my (or your) spiritual healing end?
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15)
"Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all." (1 Timothy 4:15)
The Bible is filled with passages that make it clear that the change in our lives - our choices, our perspectives, our purposes and goals, etc. - should be such that others can see it. In fact, it should amaze them (just as with the lame man), that they want to know the source/drive behind such a change. And this is to be a continual growth process. Of course, we are not to do anything for the purpose of being seen by men (Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18), but when we are truly living a Christ-centered life, people will certainly notice (Acts 4:13).
So what about me? And what about you? Has the call to 'rise and walk' been heeded? And if so, is it obvious for the world to see - in my/your life, joy, hope, and peace? Give glory to God for His mercy and healing and continue to walk as He would have you to (Ephesians 4:1; 1 John. 2:6).
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