History of a Miracle – Acts 3:1-10

Despite the purpose and theme of this study in the Book of Acts,

There’s not a lot of detailed, technical theology in this particular message.

Tonight had like us to consider the simple history surrounding this miracle.

But, as we’ve said before, there is a fine line between history in and the theology of the Word of God.

And the theology in this particular case involves the nature of miracles themselves.

What is the purpose of a miracle?

“A miracle is a display of the power and authority of God with the purpose of bringing attention to Himself or His message.”

As we have said before, the miracle is nothing in, and of, itself,

Even though there might have been an immediate positive result.

Incidentally, we need to remember that sometimes, miracles do not end up in something positive.

The man upon whom this miracle was performed may or may not be in heaven today.

The miracle was performed upon his body and not upon his soul or spirit.

And although we see the expression of great joy, we don’t see the expression of sorrow or repentance.

This is not to say that the man was not repentant and didn’t believe on Christ as his Lord and Saviour,

But there’s no clear evidence of that here in this Scripture.

So what is the purpose of the miracle?

A miracle is an act of God to bring attention to himself or to his message.

I believe that I said that sort of thing once or twice when we were studying chapter 2.

And now I would like you to notice that in many ways chapter 3 is a perfect parallel to chapter 2.

They are the two steel ribbons of a railroad track that leads straight to Jehovah.

They both begin with a notable miracle,

And they both give Peter an opportunity to preach the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ.

There in the end is the definition and purpose of a miracle.

In many dictionaries, after the literal definition examples or illustrations are given of the word.

After the definition of the word “miracle,” first, chapter 2 could be cited, and following that chapter 3.

I am praying about preaching this text is coming Sunday morning, using it as an illustration of salvation.

I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to do that.

But the primary purpose is NOT to be a parable or allegory.

We remember that Luke’s purpose in the book of acts is to give us the history of the early church.

And his message tonight is a history of the miracle of the beautiful gate.

If this was a newspaper article rather than holy Scripture, the first paragraph might read:

“Today at about 3:00 in the afternoon, at the beautiful gate of the temple, Peter and John, two of Christ’s disciples were instrumental in healing the paralysis of an unnamed middle-aged resident of Jerusalem.”

The rest of that newspaper article would’ve gone into greater detail.

But a good journalist would try to answer the five standard journalistic questions in the first paragraph.

It’s try to use those same five points once again this evening.

We will begin with the question WHEN.

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”

It had been a custom of the Jews for centuries to stop three times during the day for prayer.

David spoke about it in Ps. 55:

“As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”

And Daniel practiced it as we see in his chapter 6.

We see it elsewhere in the Book of Acts.

For the sake of simplicity we call the ninth hour, 3:00 in the afternoon.

To be more precise it was the mid-point between midday and the setting of the sun.

It was also the time of the sacrifice of the evening offering.

So this almost inconsequential historical statement highlights several important facts:

One of which is that Luke doesn’t suggest that the Apostles were going into the temple for of the sacrifice.

After the completion of the Saviour’s sacrifice, the offering of bulls, goats, and lambs were no longer important to the children of God.

Peter and John were going into the temple to pray, something which will never be inappropriate.

Secondly, we don’t see Peter and John leading an entourage of other saints.

Although the church was meeting often or even continuously in prayer,

It doesn’t appear that the apostles were demanding the Jewish style observance of this ordinance.

When did this miracle take place?

At mid-afternoon, probably within a few days after Pentecost.

Acts chapter 3 may be in expansion or explanation of chapter 2:43:

“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.”

With that we move on to the WHERE question.

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

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.”

There is some confusion about the exact location of the gate which is here called “Beautiful.”

There really aren’t any other outside sources that specifically describe that gate for us.

Josephus tells us there were 10 gates into the temple,

One of which was made of Corinthian brass as well as silver and gold,

Making it far more beautiful than any of the others.

The general opinion is that it is the inner gate called in the Talmud, “Nicanor.”

But there’s another opinion that is it is the gate called “Shushan,”

Which led into the court of the Gentiles on the east side of the temple.

This was a highly decorated entrance honoring the memory of Cyrus who permitted to the Jews to return from Babylonian captivity.

In either case it would’ve been a good place for a beggar to attract attention and alms.

And now we come to the WHO question.

First, we have Peter and John.

These two men were good friends even before they met the Saviour.

They grew up in the same neighborhood and became partners in the fishing business.

They probably worked upon each other’s souls and together prepared themselves for the ministry of John the Baptist.

Then they came to know Christ within days of each other.

As you probably all know that they had very different personalities, but they complemented one another.

Peter was very outgoing while John was very quiet and contemplative.

Some people say that Peter was much older than John, but there is no Biblical evidence for that idea.

Together with James they were often found very near to the Saviour’s side.

And we see them often together in the early chapters of the Book of Acts.

But eventually for some unknown reason we said them parting, with one going East and the other going West.

The other major character in this history was the lame man.

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

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.”

It is important, for the sake of the miracle, to realize that he was about 40 years old.

This is something which we learn from chapter 4.

And that he had never walked, having been born crippled.

He had not been injured as a child and had never suffered from polio or some other crippling disease.

In other words this man was well-known to the people of Jerusalem has never having walked.

It is impossible for this healing to be anything other than a miracle.

This could not possibly have been an act of fraud.

Perhaps it is also important to note is that his incapacity was not caused by any direct sin.

He was not being punished by God.

It is one of the facts of life that many problems in this world are understood only by the mind of God.

And multitudes have been driven nearly insane trying to find a rational explanation for the things which providence has put upon them.

The question is not: “Why?”

The real question should be, “What do I do now?”

At about 3 PM in one of the gates of the temple Peter and John were used by God to heal a well-known crippled beggar.

And WHAT specifically was done?

“And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

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.

And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”

This lame man had been brought by family or friends and laid in the beautiful gate probably early that morning, just as had been done hundreds and hundreds of other mornings.

He was hoping that the good people going into the temple to pray would be kind enough to give him a coin or two.

Generally speaking the more religious a man is the more disposed he will be to generosity.

Sometimes their relationship to the Lord makes them truly generous.

In other cases the are generous in order to give the impression of religiousness,

And then some people try to be generous in order to be religious and to buy the favor of God.

As he had probably done a thousand times before the man glanced at those passing by and asked for gift.

He probably looked at the apostles without seeing them, so Peter demanded his attention.

Some people suggest that Peter wanted him to see their poverty.

“Look at us, do we look like the sort of people that can give you some gold?”

I don’t think that Peter was trying to make some sort of point, he just needed the man’s attention.

Isn’t it interesting that the representatives of the church were not attempting to feed the poor of their city.

They were not walking around with the collected shekels of the church looking for people to feed.

I say without boasting that have given hundreds of dollars to help strangers down through the years,

But as long as there is a brother or a church member in need, then my first responsibility is toward that saint of God.

Do you know of any of the saints who are in need at this moment?

If you don’t, it’s probably because you haven’t thought about it or asked about it.

Peter told the man that he didn’t have any money, but what he did have he would share.

Then, calling on and claiming the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ he told the man to rise up and walk.

The Lord Jesus might have told him, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,”

But Peter was neither a Christ nor a Pope.

He then reached down and took the man’s hand and pulled him up.

Peter apparently knew, or had faith to believe, that the Lord would heal this long-time crippled man.

Peter was convinced of the omnipotence of the Lord.

Peter was convinced of the omnipotence, authority and deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And immediately that man’s feet and ankle bones received strength

“And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple,

Walking, and leaping, and praising God.”

It’s interesting to note is that Luke used the language of a physician.

What happened on that afternoon was that a notable lame man was instantly, thoroughly, and unmistakably healed of his four-decade-old malady.

And that brings us to the WHY question.

The general answer takes us back to the definition of a miracle.

This miracle was designed to give Peter another opportunity to address the people of Jerusalem.

More specific answers to that question take us into the mind and heart of the gracious God.

It’s very unlikely that this was the only beggar laying in the gates of the temple that day.

Why was this man healed and not all of the others?

The answer can only be found in the will and grace of God.

Did the Lord, earlier that day, tell Peter and John,

“You know that beggar who lays everyday in the beautiful gate?

Today I’m going to use you to heal him.”

I don’t know why or how Peter knew to speak to this man.

But I’m sure that there was a lot of thanksgiving to God that he did.

Why wasn’t this man healed by the Lord Jesus a year, or two, or three years earlier?

The answer must be that it wasn’t the will God.

It was the will of the Lord that he suffer for a few more months.

As I said, I don’t know whether or not this man became a child God,

But I’m quite sure the hundreds if not thousands of others have become children of the Lord through the miracle was performed upon him.

Not only did many hear the gospel later that day and then against later, because of this miracle,

But this miracle has been preached evangelically thousands of times down through the years.

This is one of the great and notable miracles of the Lord.