The temple mount towered in the background. The Gate called Beautiful cast a shadow on a man’s weathered face. Friends carried him to the gate every day, and he spent his hours pining for alms. He eked out an existence by playing on others’ piety.
There was nothing beautiful about this man’s life or the religion practiced within the walls that stood behind him. The temple excluded the needy from its entrance because of their infirmities. The place that should have brought spiritual healing only gave handouts. So he never expected to find salvation outside the temple gate.
As the hour of prayer approached, the man continued his plea for alms. Peter and John were among the temple-goers that morning, and they stopped to engage him. They locked eyes as the beggar extended his hand. But it wasn’t silver that he found.
Instead Peter stuck out his hand and spoke words of healing, “‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’” (Acts 3:6). Peter gripped the lame man and pulled him up.
Immediately his feet and ankles became strong. He began to stand and stretch, walk and worship. He peered at his toes and praised God. And everyone around him wondered what happened. Peter launched into a sermon that explained the scene.
Physical sickness painted a spiritual picture. Peter used the platform to proclaim Christ’s power and personhood. Speaking of Jesus, he told the crowd, “And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong who you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16).
That day the unnamed lame man found healing the same way he received salvation. He believed. He heard Peter’s words about Christ and believed his power. And as he stood to his feet, he followed the one who set his steps and soul free.
Before long the people started praising God too. The miracle pointed out the Messiah they missed. So they repented as Peter instructed and followed Christ. Five thousand men believed and became disciples (Acts 4:4). And the lame man led the way as people watched him prance and give his Savior praise.
Being lame became beautiful that day. Sickness set the scene for salvation. It’s not that struggles are sacred in themselves. Suffering is raw and awful and it ravages its victim. For forty years, that man didn’t feel his legs. He begged his way through life as a disgrace to his family and a pain to his people.
But sometimes God uses such struggles to show us salvation. The sick realize their spiritual state. The desperate aren’t too proud to beg. And the wounded want to be healed. So when someone offers them salvation instead of silver coins or some other simplistic solution, they believe.
Today it might be hard to see much that is beautiful in your life. Suffering, sickness, and pain often blind us. But take heart.
There is beauty in begging. There is salvation for the sick. Amongst our struggles stands a Savior who sanctifies and shows us himself. And that makes me want to do a little dancing too.
Will you join me?