Fresh off a Spirit-filled sermon, thousands of new Jesus followers, and passionate fellowship with believers, John and Peter walk the familiar steps to the temple at the hour of prayer.
Crowds gather, including the usual beggars. Friends carry a grown man, lame from birth, to the Beautiful Gate outside the temple. But he isn’t feeling very beautiful. Day after day others hoist him up and then lay him down at the gate. Day after day he begs for spare coins to make it to the next day. This is his lot, and he’s learned to make do. He has long since lost hope of anything more. On the outside he lays, and on the outside, he stays. Money for survival is what he needs, and this is the best place to get it.
Countless times Peter and John likely saw this man outside the temple. Perhaps they have even given him a coin or two. But today is different. The Holy Spirit speaks something in their soul about this man. Peter and John both feel it and direct their gaze on him. I imagine faith and power burning inside them ready to explode. Is that what it feels like?
“Look at us,” Peter says to the man. Don’t just see us; LOOK AT US; fix your eyes here.
The man looks up at Peter hopeful, expectant.
“I have no silver and gold…” Peter says. The man likely looks down, his countenance changed. The thing he expected, hoped for, needed isn’t going to come from this crew.
“…but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Peter continues as he reaches out and takes the man by the right hand, raising him up.
Immediately the man’s feet and ankles were made strong. Healed and whole he is able to ENTER the temple. No longer on the outside, HE WALKS – no LEAPS – IN. His words as powerful as his leap, he PRAISES God.
The lame man goes to the Beautiful Gate outside the temple that day hoping for a few coins. He simply wanted to be supported and sustained in his current condition. BUT GOD wanted to transform him. The unexpected happened in the ordinary and mundane. The man doesn’t get his heart’s desire – a handout -- what the man receives instead is the right hand of fellowship; something far more beautiful than a few dirty coins, TRANSFORMATION by the power of the name of the risen Jesus Christ.
Peter goes to the temple expecting to pray. What Peter received was the gift of faith as he expectantly reached out his right hand knowing the man who hasn’t ever walked would walk on this day. Could that ever get old?
Jesus, Peter, and John had likely crossed path with this man many times at the same location, but healing didn’t come. There were likely others needing healing that remained in their condition that day. God’s TIMING is not ours, and His PURPOSE is to reveal the heavenly kingdom, not to heal (in this life). Sometimes the healing comes and sometimes it doesn’t. Relationship and restoration are what He is after. Is that what we are after too?
I think it boils down to joy and satisfaction coming from placing our eyes and our hope on the right thing – God’s kingdom. But instead we often dream with hopes fixed on the wrong things, and we settle, begging for what will help us just get by a little more comfortable in the moment. Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God, and the other things will follow. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Sometimes it will look like the spirit leading us to faith-filled action, and sometimes it will be lifting our eyes to receive the spirit-led actions of others on our behalf. God is always pursuing us, and HIS PROVISION is so much BIGGER than anything we could fathom begging for.
Though the world tells us otherwise, we aren’t sacrificing when we seek Him over worldly material and physical things. We are trading so-so living for the BEST. Contentment, a soul at peace, nearness to the one who created us, knows us and loves us more than anyone in the world.
“Look at me,” Jesus says, “I don’t have the _______ you think you want. What I do have I give to you; Something even better. You in? Let’s go!”
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