by John Lowe
The doctor’s office is a really neat place, it's full of people who are sick, or at least think they are. It's like the guy who called the doctor and said, "I’m calling about my uncle Fred" and the doctor said, "I keep telling you, your uncle only thinks he's sick" "Oh but it's worse now" replied the man, "Now he thinks he's dead."
People go to the hospital for one of two reasons, 1) to get better, or 2) to ease their suffering. That's it. Other than that there is no good reason to be in a hospital. The food might not be bad but it isn’t great. And the beds don't look very comfortable, and the company is downright depressing. But if you are sick it is an ideal place. Mark 2:17 tells us that Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." If you're not sick then you don't need a doctor, and if you're not lost then you don't need to be found.
I wonder if anyone else here is as strong-willed as I am. If you are that isn't being strong-willed it's being pig-headed. I hate to admit to being lost. I'd drive around in a circle all day before I’d swallow my pride and stop someone and tell them I’m lost. And until you are ready to admit to the fact that you need Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior He can't help you.
The third thing that occurs to us is that the man was expectant, because it says in verse 5: “And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.”
Now that’s a positive attitude. He asked for alms and Peter said, "Look at us".
Now when I owned a Service Master business, I was the salesman. I was inexperienced, but I knew when I had a sale. There were things that were said or done that told me "You got this one in the bag." When you’re a salesman, you like to hear things like this:
"This is a nice suit does it come in blue?"
"Boy I really like this car can I get a cassette put in?"
When Peter said, "Look at us" that was a good sign, why? Think about it, what do you do when you see a bum on the street panhandling? Or you go to the mall and someone is standing there with a box for some charity and you have no change? You look the other way, don't you?
So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. When we approach God in prayer we have to approach expecting an answer. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 7:9-10: "Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?” Most of us are pushovers for our kids; we like to give things to them when we can. And when we come to God in prayer and ask that our sins be forgiven, we have to expect Him to forgive them. Not hope but expect.
Christ will forgive us and save us and give us eternal life, but we have to ask. We need to approach Him. The beggar would never have gotten anywhere if he hadn't asked. Christ has to be approached with a positive attitude.The beggar probably didn't say "You probably don't want to give me anything do you?"
Another thing we notice about this man is that he believed.
Verses 6 and 7 tells us: “But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Put yourself in his spot, every day of his adult life this man had been carried to this spot to beg. Rain & shine, warm weather and cold weather, he had to beg or starve. He had had days when he had collected next to nothing and other days when he had tripled his usual take. He had taken physical and verbal abuse from children and teenagers and adults. He had been ridiculed and slandered. But never had he ever heard anything like this.
He'd asked for a crumb and been offered a banquet, had asked for a trifle and been offered his very life. How should he react, what thoughts coursed through his head? Perhaps he thought: "Tens of thousands of people in Jerusalem and I get a present." or maybe it was "Oh no if I can walk then I’ll have to get a job!" What were his initial thoughts? Had he heard tell of Peter, John, or Jesus of Nazareth? We’ll probably never know. But this we do know, he believed Peter.
The scriptures say, “And he took him by the right hand and raised him up.” He didn't grab him under his arms and lift him; he took him by the hand and helped him up. Peter assisted the beggar to his feet; so he helped him get up. And the man must have helped as well. He put his weight on his legs and felt the strength flow down his thighs. He did something he had never done before; he pushed himself to a sitting position and then got to his feet. And as his muscles began to swell, and tingle with the unfamiliar tensions and movement he realized that he was doing the impossible, he was standing by himself. And slowly the realization dawned on him, this wasn't a practical joke. These men indeed had more to offer him than silver and gold. For they had given him what nature had deprived him of, they had given him his legs. But only through his belief did this happen, and only by believing the words of this stranger was he standing.
The fifth thing I want to say is that he was made whole.
In the last part of verse 7 it says, “And immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” One minute half a man, the next minute whole. One minute crippled the next minute healed.
Just as his handicap had been beyond dispute, so was his healing. Not even the Sanhedrin and high priest could doubt or disbelieve what they and witnessed. How do you argue with success? Here was a man who had been crippled by a cruel quirk of nature, and yet now he was whole, just as if his handicap had never been. The skin which had hung loosely on useless muscles now clung to the well-defined shape of thigh and calf muscles. The legs that had never moved now responded to every whim, the feet that he had never felt now sensed the pebbles and dust that lay beneath them.
Although we have a spiritual handicap we can be made whole. King David had committed adultery, murder and treason and yet in Psalms 51:7 David writes; “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Listen to what Paul says concerning sin in Romans 6:23; “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When you ask for forgiveness your being is touched and you are made every bit as whole and clean as Adam was before the fall. It doesn't matter what the sin is, Jesus Christ is able to make you whiter than snow.
The violent murderer becomes as innocent as a newborn baby. The foulest prostitute becomes as pure as a virgin. Fourteen years ago Madonna had her first hit song and it said, "Like a virgin, touched for the very first time." And although it had nothing to do with salvation it could have. Because, that's what happens, when Jesus comes into your life. Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” Every sin, every evil thought, word, or deed, every hurt, every scorn, shall be gone; it won't even be history, because history is recorded. King David had this to say about it in Psalms 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.”
The last thing I can say about this man is that he was full of praise.
In verse 8 we read, “Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” I like this; nobody had to tell him to go to the temple. Nobody told him he should thank God, but he knew he had to. His very first act was one of praise and thanksgiving. He was on fire and he wanted to share it with everyone he met. He didn't consider if it would offend them, he didn't wonder if it would drive them away, he wanted to tell them what happened in the name of Jesus.
I can just hear him now, "Excuse me, sir, I don't know you but a few minutes ago I was a cripple, couldn't walk, couldn't even move my toes, just laid there on the street and do you know what, a man came up to me and said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And guess what; well I suppose you can see for yourself, that's right I can walk."
If he had been like some Christians, you know what his first reaction would have been, “Oh no, now I’ll have to buy shoes”, or “Oh great now I’ll have to get a job. You know, it might not hurt if we got a little more excited about our faith, after all, if you were drowning and someone threw you a rope you'd get excited. And if you had cancer and someone developed a cure you'd get excited. And if your team won the Super Bowl, you'd get excited.
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