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—Act_3:2
The Conversion of a Soul as Great a Miracle as Physical Healing
It is perhaps wrong to call this the first miracle after Pentecost, though it is generally thought of in that way. The boldness of the disciples after the fiery baptism, the conviction wrought upon the hearts of thousands, and the adding to the church, after one sermon, of a great multitude of men and women— all these, for such as have the eyes to see, are as truly miraculous and supernatural as the healing of the lame man. We are very apt to confine the word miracle to things that we can see and touch and hear. We forget that the conversion of a soul is as truly miraculous as the curing of an ailment. It takes the power of God to change a life as surely as to make a lame man leap. This miracle, then, was not the first after Pentecost. But it was so remarkable, so unexpected, so fully in line with the ministry of Jesus, that it made an instant and profound impression. Everyone of us knows the story well. There is not a more graphic chapter in the Bible. It will be best then to leave the scene alone and to find one or two lessons in the verses.
The Beautiful Gate
First, then, let us note the contrast between the beggar and the Beautiful Gate. The Beautiful Gate was of Corinthian brass. Like the wonderful gates of the Baptistery at Florence (that Michael Angelo said might have served for Paradise), it was adorned with perfect skill. It represented all that art could do. It was the masterpiece of the workmanship of man. When the sun glanced on it the people would cry “Beautiful,” until at last it got that as its name. Yet here beside it was a lame man begging,. He lay in the shadow of the finest art. He was lame and helpless, poor and needy, and the wonderful gate was not a yard away. Are there no contrasts like that in our great cities? Is there nothing like that in New York or in London? Beautiful gates opening on beautiful homes, and very near to them outcasts such as this?
Due to Illness, the Sufferer Was Near the Gate
Or we might view it quite another way: the Beautiful Gate was very near the sufferer. Of all the gates into the sanctuary, this gate was the finest and the fairest, and just because this man was poor and helpless he found himself beside that fairest gate. Had he been strong, he would never have been there. He would have been out in the streets earning his livelihood. Who knows but he might have been an idle rioter had he been vigorous and whole like other men. But he was lame— the hand of God had touched him. He had a heavy cross to carry every day. And just because he had that cross to bear, his life was spent close to the Beautiful Gate. Have you a lame brother or a weak sister? There is a beautiful gate very near that sufferer, too.
One Small Kindness Brings Great Results
Once more observe what the kindness of friends can do. It was friends who brought him to the spot where he was healed. The man was helpless. He could not move a step. He would have lain in his garret all his days, unaided. But the poor are very kind to the poor and every morning he got a friendly lift. You see they were doing far more than they ever thought of. We always do more than we think, when we kind. They carried their poor comrade to beg a few coins, but the are day came when thanks to them the man got healed. Did you ever give anyone a hand towards a gate beautiful? Did you ever bring any lonely neighbor to your beautiful home or to your beautiful church? It seems a small and simple thing to do, yet who can tell what the results shall be?
Our Choicest Opportunities Come Unsought
Again, this shines out clearly in the story, our choicest opportunities come unsought Peter and John were not bustling through Jerusalem saying, “I wonder if we can find anyone to help.” Peter and John were quietly going to pray as they had been taught to do long since at home. Had they neglected church that afternoon, they would have lost a great deal more than an hour’s worship. They would have lost the glorious opportunity of finding what an ascended Lord could do. The fact is, God takes us by surprise. Our great hours come when we never look for them. We are busy toiling at an ordinary task, when out of the infinite the angel comes. If you want to be famous, never think of fame. It you wish to be great, forget all about greatness. Like Peter and John, hold fast to common duty (even in the dull and sleepy afternoon), and some day you shall find your lame man at the gate.
Jesus Will Do More than We Expect
Then note, Christ gives us more than we expect. There is an overflow in all His gifts. One of the great words of the Bible is abundantly, and in Christ’s dealings there is great abundance This poor man at the gate looked for an alms. He would have been perfectly satisfied with a few coins. But instead of a few coins, he got health and strength, and that is the generous way of Jesus Christ. The man who was let down through the cottage roof got his sins forgiven as well as his palsy healed. The prodigal would have lived contentedly in the kitchen; but instead of that he had the robe and ring. One thing let every one of us be sure of Jesus will do more for us than we expect, and none knew that better than the lame man here when he begged for a little coin and got a cure.
Emotion Will Become Strength of Character
Then, lastly, it is quite natural to leap at first. The man went walking and leaping praising God. It takes a little time to find one’s feet after a great experience like that. Give the man ten or twenty years of city life, and he will walk as sedately as any other citizen. First they shall mount up with wings as eagles, says the prophet; then they shall run (as children always do); and then, when time and experience have wrought their sobering work, they shall walk and (thank God) shall not faint. Do not object to preliminary leaping Do not be hard on a little wild enthusiasm in the man who has really been healed by Christ. Time will convert that spiritual electricity into a driving and illuminating power Emotion will be translated by the years into the strength of action and of character.
Lord Jesus Thank you for what you are about to do in our lives. Thank you for what you are doing, Thank holy spirit for what have done and what you will ever more do for those who love. For they have chosen the best course of life. In Jesus’ name, thank you Father.