I have decided to come back to this scripture this morning, because it epitomizes the very best and worst in our world today.
We have in these eleven verses an ILLUSTRATION of greatest problem that faces humanity.
Wednesday we looked at the historical aspects of this notable miracle.
And I think that it is very important to remember that it was only Luke’s intention to give us that history.
He was not at this point, as a preacher, trying to craft a sermon, as I am this morning.
Rather, he was describing one man’s malady and the divine omnipotence that overcame it.
But this morning, I’d like to use the historical event to illustrate something much more important.
And I’d like us to think about three things:
The man’s incurable condition, the Lord’s inauspicious servants and Jehovah’s incomparable miracle.
He came into the world with a birth defect of some kind that rendered his legs totally useless.
He probably never crawled and may have been slow at pulling himself around with his arms.
This was a part of the theology of the Jews in that day:
But poverty and malady were proof of terrible sins and the displeasure of God.
Unless you are a scientist trying to figure out how to prevent such human disasters,
It is not a good idea to beat yourself up trying to figure out why these things happen.
But for at least 40 years there was no true answer to that question.
And it is unlikely that he ever got farther into the temple than the Beautiful gate.
There are Old Testament scriptures which were interpreted to say that people with deformities were prohibited from the House of God.
There were laws which forbade the children of priests and Levites from serving God who were incapacitated or deformed in even little ways.
And there were Rabbinical laws and temple guards which kept even the common, crippled beggar out of the temple.
The temple in Jerusalem had been up to that time the place where man met God.
But, obviously, due to his physical condition could not, by himself, pass through the gates of the temple.
The epistles of Paul or Peter; the Book of Genesis or the laws of Moses,
Everywhere you turn in the Bible you see the sins of man,
And you see the rejection and expulsion of man from the presence of God because of his sins.
Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins had hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
“Wherefore, as by one man’s sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all man, for all have sinned.”
For whatever reason, you and I are sinners and incapable of walking into the throne room of God.
We are both forbidden by the law of Holiness and impotent by our sin to stand before God in our natural condition.
This is true about every single one of us.
Psalm 53 says, “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men,
Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
There were no Jewish affirmative action programs, and no Goodwill Industries for the handicapped.
This man was totally dependent on the generosity, the kindness, and the grace of others.
Just as you and I are before the Lord.
But the Bible is quite clear that the man was not legless.
He had femur bones, tibias and fibias, with a pair of feet and ankles,
And if he had tried to walk into the temple in that condition, his malady would have been that much more obvious.
The harder we try to justify our self-righteousness. the more we prove our unrighteousness before God.
How many times has the addict declared that he could quit if he wanted to?
How often have you determined to stop some sin in your life and failed?
And we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
We can sit faithfully in the Beautiful Gate for 75 years, but if the Lord of the temple doesn’t visit us with His omnipotent grace, we will forever remain spiritually crippled.
There’s a sense in which this man had to start over again.
As an acquaintance of mine has often told me about himself, “This man needs a new body.”
And just as he needed a new body his dead spirit needed new life as well.
He had probably been laid at the Beautiful Gate early that morning.
He might have been there to greet those that went to prayer at 9:00, and then again for those that arrived for the noon-day prayers.
He may, or may not, have collected enough money that day to buy himself a meal for the evening.
But in all probability hundreds of people had passed by ignoring the man and his needs,
They might have been discussing some of the glorious events of the past few days.
As leaders in the Jerusalem church, they might have been talking about some of the problems that the rapid growth was causing.
They have been may have been discussing deep theological concepts and the best way to teach them to the new believers.
But whatever they were doing there were not too busy to notice this man and his need.
I don’t believe for a moment that Peter and John went into the temple simply because it was the proper religious thing to do.
They may have been going into the temple because they loved the Lord and wanted to be in that place as they prayed.
But we also know that they met with the saints for prayer in other places as well.
Did the Lord awaken Peter the previous night and tell him to help this specific man?
Probably not, but we don’t know that for sure.
Somehow Peter felt a consciousness of God’s willingness to heal this man.
I can’t explain that feeling, or describe it, because I have never felt myself.
Peter fastened his eyes on the man and demanded his attention.
Notice that despite the collected and combined incomes of many hundreds of the saints,
The church wasn’t the soup kitchen or the welfare agency of the city.
They pass their legislation and laws, and they create their foundations
And they budget and give away some of their silver and gold, even that which belongs to the Lord.
And they sincerely believe that a year from now this will be a better world than it is today.
Technology doesn’t make a better world it only makes an evil world more technical.
And if they had given him enough money to keep him from begging for the rest of his life,
He would still have been a cripple and still barred from entering the temple.
But then I would point to men like Saul of Tarsus, who by the grace of God were turned from murderers to saints.
And I’d point to Levi, the corrupt civil servant, who became an apostle of Christ.
And I’d point to this man who ran into the temple of God leaping and praising God for his grace.
And no one will carry crippled kids to the Beautiful Gate.
There will one day be an entire world where sin, crime, and their effects will be as rare as hen’s teeth.
The apostles were representatives of that world and it’s true King, but the world wasn’t really interested.
Christ came unto His own and His own received Him not.
We don’t need ears listening to digital satellite radio signals;
When the man of the world said,
God said unto him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12).
We need apostles and ambassadors, who will pick up the word of God, look the spiritual cripples in the eye and say,
“Ye must be born again. You can’t go on like this!”
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
“Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.
Luke, our historian was not there that afternoon,
We see that in the tiny details which he describes.
And obviously the crippled man reached up, probably with his left hand.
Somehow he had received just enough faith to trust the words and the gesture of this strange Galilean.
Peter wanted the man to realize that what was happening was under the authority the Lord Jesus.
In fact, Pete called Him Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of Jehovah.
He didn’t want anyone to think that Peter or John was the source of this miracle.
Perhaps this impotent man had heard of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Perhaps he had actually had heard the Lord Jesus.
Perhaps he had heard that there were other wonders and signs been done by the apostles, and he had faith or hope enough to believe that his could be the greatest day of his life.
In much the same way that this man was raised to walk a new life in Jerusalem,
There have been millions of people raised to walk new spiritual lives by the grace and power of the Omnipotent God.
To take a human spirit and give it life, where before it had been dead in trespasses and sins,
The God who created legs in the first place can certainly re-empower them.
And the death of Christ on the cross.
But also in the salvation of the sinner there is a bit of human instrumentality.
I believe in the existence of angels which serve God and perform His will,
Even when Saul Tarsus was converted there were outside influences.
The Lord used these two apostles to be a blessing to this man.
I can’t tell you that I know what that man was thinking when Peter put his hand down toward him.
I can’t tell you that he was really strong in faith.
There was enough faith given this man to trust the message and the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
There is a lot that I don’t know about this miracle at the Beautiful Gate,
But there are a lot of things that I do know.
I know that if the Holy Spirit is squeezing your heart and convicting you of your sin before God;
I know that if your heart is aching and breaking in repentance over sin;
That as the Lord leads you to reach out toward Christ, He will receive you.
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”