“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have…”
A scene is playing out here. A scene that is illustrating God’s will. God’s will for this man. God’s will for human interaction. God’s will for his interaction with humanity. Let’s break it down.
1) The time of prayer is three in the afternoon. Sounds to me like the last big gathering of people before dinner time. This crippled man is most likely counting on begging for enough money to buy dinner tonight. This is his last chance to the dance of filling his stomach for the night. He’s desperate. Consumed by hunger and thoughts of satisfying that hunger.
2) Peter and John look at the man and ask him to do the same. The man expects some money or food. I imagine his thoughts sounding like this, “Obviously these two gentlemen see my plight and understand my circumstances. If they are asking my attention they MUST be looking to engage me and my accompanying issue.”
3) “Silver or gold I do not have…”
Do you ever notice the difference in human perception of time? Like how “time flies when you’re having fun,” but it only inches by when you look for ways out of an upsetting situation?
I’m almost certain this man felt that last one. I can hear his questions in my brain…
“Why are you talking to me then?”
“Can’t you see I’m busy?”
“Quit wasting my time!”
“I have needs to be met and you’re not helping.”
“Get out of the way!”
“This is my only chance to eat tonight!”
“How selfish and arrogant of you to take my attention away from me providing for myself!”
And as he finishes that last thought Peter finishes his sentence and the rest of the scene follows.
“… but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”
God’s will for this man was not to waste his time; God had plans for him to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11). God’s will for human interaction is for Christians to share from whatever blessings God has graced them with (Money, talents, or simply the love of Christ) and bring people into the fold of God from there (notice the crippled man went WITH them into the temple AFTER Peter and John shared with him). We cannot expect people to become disciples based on the promise of greener pastures. We must allow them to eat and drink of Christ’s blessings before asking them to trust him.
Lastly, and most importantly is God’s will for personal interaction. Of COURSE God cared whether or not that man ate that night, but he also had bigger plans for him! Sometimes when we are able to take our eyes off of our narrow-minded focus of self and immediacy we are able to accept the gifts of God that are not what we currently want (food/money in this story) and take what we really need (a healed body) for the provision of our current need and future needs.
When we focus too much on what is good for us now, we forget what God says is good for us in the future. Let’s be better than that. Let’s rely on God and joyfully accept our provision with thanksgiving!