A HANDOUT ...
"One day at three o'clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one called Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a hand-out. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, 'Look here.' He looked up, expecting to get something from them.
"Peter said, 'I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!' He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankle joints became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked." Acts 3:1-8 (The Message).
Such an everyday event...beggar asks for money, hand in the purse, toss him a few coins, go on their way! But for Peter and John and the rest of the church it proved to be the turning of the tide for them all.
There is no hint in Luke's record of how long the new-born church enjoyed the favour of the people of Jerusalem...a few weeks a few months, perhaps even a year or two, at the most. They were still living like Jews, keeping to their dietary laws, observing the feasts and going to the Temple for their daily prayers.
Up to this point they had done little to rattle the cages of the Jewish religious leaders. To all intents and purposes the fuss surrounding Jesus the Nazarene had died down. Many people from their ranks had believed but didn't seem to be making waves until a beggar at the Temple gate asked for a hand-out.
How many times had Peter and John walked past this man on their way into the Temple? Sometimes the very familiarity of a person's plight dulls our ears to his cry. Perhaps the apostles were so used to feeling helpless that they simply ignored the man and went on their way after dropping a few coins into his outstretched hand.
What made this occasion different? What awakened in them the awareness of a new disposition, a new presence in their inner being, a new confidence in the Jesus whom they had seen doing the very miracle this man desperately needed? For them is was a light bulb moment!
They realised in a flash that this man needed more than a hand-out. They had been elevated to the same position as sons as their Master had been. They could do what Jesus did because the same Spirit that worked through Jesus was in them. This time they had no money but they had something far better - the very nature, disposition and power of the Healer.
Compassion and confidence exploded into faith that declared, 'Get up and walk.' Action matched command; Peter helped him to his feet and the miracle was complete! The kingdom of God was in action, restoring a man born into the realm of a fallen world into which Jesus had stepped to undo what Satan had done.
That was the moment when these followers of the man the religious hierarchy had crucified as a blasphemer set the cat among the pigeons. They could no longer be ignored or tolerated because they were now challenging the very foundations of their religion and their power...
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