A man who could not walk since birth would be brought to the temple gate every day so that he could beg for money. There were no wheelchairs and ramps for him to get around, and there were no laws to protect and give people like him a chance to hold down a job. The only way he could live was to depend on other people’s mercy. It probably was not easy to carry this man back and forth to the temple, but there were people dedicated enough to him to do so every day. They probably figured that people who were committed enough to God to come to pray at the temple might be more likely to help the man, so they would time his arrival with prayer time.
The man was hoping to get money from Peter and John, but instead, received something miraculous and more important. For the first time in his life of more than forty years, the man was able to stand and jump and walk. So, he went walking and leaping praising God. When people saw him and recognized him as the man who used to sit at the gate and beg, they were amazed.
When we read accounts of miraculous healings in the Bible, we tend to first wonder why this man? There must have been needy people everywhere, but why was this man healed and not others? Then we think about the people we know that were ill that we prayed for, but the healing did not come. We wonder why that person was not healed. Often, we are not given the answer to why this person got healed but this person did not. This passage is no different – We do not know why this particular man was healed and not someone else.
Luke does give us hints as to why the healing occurred. In Acts 1, Jesus told His followers that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. When healing the man, Peter does not simply heal him, but specifically states, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”
Then we read in the latter half of Acts 3 that the masses gathered around Peter, John and the healed man. This gave Peter the opportunity to witness for Jesus Christ. We are told in the next chapter that over 5,000 people believed through this.
It is good to be reminded that the main reason that the Holy Spirit is given to us when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is not to just help us in our daily lives, but to be witnesses for Christ. So when something we believe miraculous happens, it is not for us to savor it, but to use it to witness for Christ.
There is a woman named Joni Eareckson Tada, who, as a daughter of an Olympic wrestler, lived a very active life. But when she was 17, she dove into the water not realizing how shallow it was, and she fractured her spine and no longer could move anything below her shoulders. She and her friends prayed for a miraculous healing, but it did not come. She went through depression and suicidal thoughts. Through occupational therapy, she learned to paint with a brush between her teeth. She got so good at it, she began selling her paintings. She also learned to write this way and began to write books. She has also released several musical albums and starred in an autobiographical movie. She has become an advocate for the disabled and served on the committee that drafted the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has been an encouragement and an inspiration to many. She mentions in her autobiography that although her prayers for healing were not answered in the way she hoped for, she realizes that God was able to use her in mighty ways that would not have been possible had she been healed and went back to living a normal life.
Through Luke, we see how a healing was used to witness for Christ. Through Joni, we see how the Holy Spirit enabled her to be a witness even though the healing that she was looking for was not granted. Let us be on the lookout for things that happen through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we realize it, do not just wonder and celebrate over it, but use it to witness for Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Do not fret about how best to witness or what to say – when the times come, have faith that the Holy Spirit will give you the power and love and the words to be witnesses.
(The above is a summary of the message shared by Shun Takano during our zoom worship time on Sunday, March 14th.)