I’ve heard several people speak recently about the same thing, the time Peter and John went into the temple and encountered the man who was begging at the gate.
You probably have heard it before, starting at the beginning of Acts chapter 3. We’re told that the man was lame from birth, and was laid daily at the gate to beg for alms from the people entering the temple. When he begged from Peter and John, Peter said to him “Look at us.”
So, the man 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 Peter took his hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankles received strength.
So the man leaped up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking and leaping and praising God.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God. They recognized him as the man who had sat begging at the gate, and were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
It’s a beautiful story, of the first miracle recorded after the day of Pentecost. There are many things to see in it. For example, the power of Christ to heal, and how Peter called on the name of Jesus for that power. Another is that the disciples had just been filled with the Holy Spirit shortly before (see Acts chapter 2), and now they were healing and performing miracles just as Jesus had.
Also, look at the complete healing the Lord did: not only was the man physically healed, but immediately was able to walk and leap, even though he was born lame, and all without weeks or months of physical therapy or needing time to learn to walk the way a baby does.
There’s even the events following, later in the same chapter, how this amazing miracle of God and beautiful act of healing for a man without any other hope, ended up resulting in the first persecution of the church.
These are all good and powerful things to see in this account. What struck me about it recently is a simpler thing, though, there in the words that Peter said.
I love the way it is worded in the good old KJV: “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee”.
Look at what he said again – “Silver and gold have I none”. I’m sure that other people passed by the poor, lame beggar, and feeling compassionate (or guilty, or magnanimous, or maybe self righteous), reached into their purses (this being the first century, probably before the invention of pockets) and gave the man some money. They had some, so they gave him a little silver.
But Peter and John did not have any money. They were at the point where they had nothing: no silver, like working people would have, or gold, like wealthier people – nothing.
How many of us are in that state? Do you have nothing in your pockets, or wallet, or purse? No money, no cash, no debit card or credit card? But that’s where Peter and John were, and God used them to perform miracles.
Maybe part of the reason we don’t we see miraculous moves of the Holy Spirit is because we have too much – money, and credit, and government assistance, and aid agencies, and family, and friends, and GoFundMe, whatever. We’re not depending on the Lord for everything, for even our next meal, like Peter and John seemed to be. We always have some other way to take care of things, to handle things ourselves, to whip out some money (either cash or credit) to solve any problem.
What if Peter and John did have some money? Maybe they would have tossed a coin or two to the lame man, and then walked on in to the temple. It might have provided means for the man to buy another meal, but would it have changed the man’s life? I don’t think so.
Would it have set him free of a lifetime of disability and humiliation begging for his sustenance? No, it wouldn’t have.
Would this story have made it into the Bible? I doubt it.
But Peter and John had nothing. Or actually, nothing else but the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus. The only thing they had, they gave him. And it resulted in a supernatural and miraculous change in the man’s situation, in his condition, and in his whole life. It reached from the physical (his no longer lame feet and ankles) into his heart, his soul and his spirit. What did he do when he was healed? He walked into the temple, leaping, and praising God. He was changed completely.
Do we have too much? Are we relying on our ‘silver and gold,’ our money and credit, to handle life and even to minister in the Lord’s name? Or are we relying on Him and the power of His Spirit for what we need for everything in our life? It’s something to consider for each of us.
There’s another part to this story, though. After Peter said, “Silver and gold I don’t have,” he then also said, “But what I do have I give you”. If you aren’t seeing miracles happen, is it because you don’t have that power of God that Peter and John had? You can’t give what you don’t have. It’s another thing to consider.
But that’s a different issue, for another time.