Acts 3 probably counts as one of those chapters of the Bible that is easily forgotten. We tend to forget that Jesus was not the only one in the Bible who performed miracles and turned the attention of people to God through these miracles. Remember in John when we saw that Jesus’ miracles were called signs and these signs were markers always pointing back to the God of all creation? Peter does the same thing here. In vs. 12 he reminds the people who have gathered as curiosity seekers that it was not through human hands that this person was healed, but rather through the power of Jesus himself. What a great strategy that whatever we are able to accomplish we can redirect it to Jesus, the one who gives us the ability.
Every time that I read this Scripture I think of my approach to those who are in need and ask for monetary gifts on the street. The word we normally use is “beggars”. Every day someone would bring this beggar and deposit him by the beautiful gate. It was a gate that people would frequently use and so it was really an ideal setting for someone who relied upon the generosity of people for their welfare. Below you will find what some scholars believe to be the Beautiful Gate but most people call it the Golden Gate. It is another John Faltin picture taken at our last trip to Israel.
One thing you should notice about this picture is that the gate is completely sealed. It has been sealed since the 12th century primarily because of the belief that when the Messiah comes back he will come back through this gate. Those who sealed it did not want people to be tempted into thinking they could orchestrate a second coming and so create continuous unrest as each generation raised up its own “Messiah”. The reference to this thought is found in Ezekiel 44:1-3 where the gate is commanded to be closed until the servant of the Lord were to come back. Over the years there have been attempts by Christians to kind of try to force the coming back of the Messiah by physically attempting to open that gate which would in some way require the second coming of Jesus as the Messiah. It is almost as if they are trying to force God’s hand. Needless to say it has not worked.
Let’s get back to the Scripture…so what is our approach when a beggar comes to us and asks for money? It is something that has often bothered me so I have come up with an approach that is not Scriptural, unless you want to use this Scripture as a template. I never give money to those on the street. I have many times taken them for a meal, or bought some things that they have asked for, but never do I give money. It is the cynic in me that says maybe, just maybe, you can’t trust what they are saying. I know many people take the approach that you give them the money and then let God sort it out. I totally get that and I am in no way saying that is the wrong way to approach the same situation. It is just not the approach I take. Peter healed the man, I can’t really do that, or at least I don’t think I can do that. Maybe if I just had a little more faith in God and in people I would take that approach.
So once Peter heals the man the man clings to him (vs.11) as Peter gives another sermon. So this is the second time that Peter preaches in Acts. To Susan Roe’s comment, it does seem like he is coming into his own as far as a leader of the 1st century church. Without Jesus around they realize they need to be the go to people. The message he gives is the same. The prophets were sent to let us know about the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah came in Jesus. We killed the Messiah. But the Good News is that we now know who the Messiah is and we are able to believe in him.
It is a simple message, but it is one that he repeats. Peter calls Jesus the righteous and Holy One (vs.14), he calls Jesus the author of life (vs.15). Peter attributes the beggar’s healing to his faith in Jesus (vs.16). Wait, where did that come from? We didn’t see his faith. How do we know if he had faith in Jesus. Isn’t that the point? We so often second guess where a person is in their faith. We so often make the judgment call and try to distinguish between believer and unbeliever. Do me a favor, all of you who may be reading this, do not ever, ever try to be the one to figure out if a person is a believer or a nonbeliever. John Calvin teaches us to treat all people as children of God. That has to be our approach in life, it does make life so much easier. So yeah, the beggar did believe in Jesus and so he was healed. Praise be to God!