Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Miracle at the Gate

Acts 3:1 ¶ Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

An amazing miracle
This wasn’t just any old miracle. The apostles performed many miracles (Acts 2:43). This was a particularly miraculous sort of miracle. This was the healing of someone born with a defect. Did the man even dare to hope that he would one day be able to walk?

When Jesus healed the man born blind it was said that no one had ever heard of something like that ever taking place in the history of humanity (John 9:32). Now the followers of Jesus had just performed an equally marvelous miracle. A man born lame was instantly healed!

As we witness, through Luke’s testimony, the healing of this man born lame we are inspired to worship our miracle-working God. Certainly we are left with questions. Why didn’t the apostles spend their lives traveling around healing everyone? Why don’t we see more of these healings today? Have you ever known or even heard of someone born lame that began to leap and walk suddenly? Ultimately our questions will not be answered in this life. What is certain is God’s goodness and power. He is worthy to be praised!

Were it not for God’s goodness no one would ever be healed, Jesus would never have walked amongst us healing those who were sick and oppressed of the devil, and we would have no hope that our prayers for healing and deliverance would find answers. God’s goodness is beyond question.

This most miraculous of miracles also leaves us without doubt that God has unlimited power. That means that no matter how dark the night there is reason for hope. In this miracle we see a glimpse of God’s good plan for all of creation. What has been crippled and broken for thousands of years will soon be restored, revitalized, made new.

Not just for one man at one gate
What God did for that man outside of the gate called Beautiful was truly unique. Yet, it wasn’t. This apostolic miracle is strikingly similar to the activities Jesus had been performing during his days in the flesh. The work Jesus began on Earth is continuing through his church.

Jesus came to save his people from their sins. But that’s not all he came to do. He cared for our physical needs. He healed physical bodies. He gave food to the hungry. This man begging outside of the temple could count on the generosity of the Jewish people. He could count on their generosity because they had been taught by God to take care of the poor. This gives us a glimpse of God’s agenda. God intends to meet our needs both physical and spiritual. These days he largely accomplishes this through his people.

A beauty yet to be seen
The gate called Beautiful was likely a gate known as the Corinthian gate. Unlike the other temple gates, which were made of gold and silver, this gate was fashioned from bronze. This gate was considered to be the most beautiful gate of all because of its amazing artwork.

Somehow this beggar’s life was like that gate, made more beautiful, in spite of its smallness, than the silver and gold lives that surrounded. This was a life tried by fire. This was a life fashioned through terrible suffering. This was a life marked by a degree of thankfulness that could not be realized in the more comfortable lives around him.

Michelle, a young woman known by the church, spent her life crippled. She suffered from Spina Bifida. Not once did she get to play like a normal little girl. She never ran and skinned her knee. She never learned to ride a bicycle. She never skipped or jumped rope. Boys never lined up at her door to court her. Don’t get me wrong, she lived a good life. She loved her family and her family loved her. She graduated high school and went on to college. But she needed constant care from her supportive family. This October, at the young age of 40, she left us.

Michelle waits. We wait. We live by faith in this in between time. Jesus is Lord. Yet, we pray that his will will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus is King. But we wait to crown him King of kings and Lord of the lords. His kingdom has come and yet his kingdom has not fully arrived. It’s as though we live in a land where two maps overlap. We see hints in shadows, or rather in bright spots – like the healing of this lame man, of how things should be, how things will be. Michelle waits. We wait.

We wait in authority. Just as the Apostles performed miracles in the authority of the name of Jesus, so can we. Signs and wonders still follow those who believe. We wait in faith.

Isaiah 35:6 Then shall the lame man leap as a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.