Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:8–10)
As a youth, to say I was injury prone would be an understatement. By the age of twenty, I had broken three collar bones, sprained two ankles, had two knee surgeries, and one broken thumb, not to mention scores of cuts, floor burns, and stitches. Almost all of these injuries were sports-related. I played basketball for the school team up and into College, and in High School also played football, lacrosse, and golf. Accept for golf, which I gravitate towards in later years for leisure; I was drawn to the physical, high impact sports. Yet, they took their toll. One year during football season, I broke my thumb. I was sad to be sidelined from football that year, but worse than that was the prospect of not being ready for basketball come winter. After six weeks in a cast, the doctor gave me the go-ahead. He removed the cast in time for the basketball season. The first thing I did when I got home was run out back and shoot hoops.
Now imagine being born without the ability to walk. Every day of your life, you have to deny the urge to stand up, tempered by the enduring reality of your immobility and dependence on others. We read in Acts chapter 3 of such a man, born without this ability most take for granted. He was forced to rely on others for food, hygiene, to go places, and other basic needs. In v. 2, we see that every day, others carried him over and laid him at the temple gate, where he sat and begged for alms. During the first century, the temple was the center of the social life of the Jewish people. Positioned at the Temple gate, he hoped to draw some compassionate, good-Samaritan-like generosity from passers-by.
When the apostles heard him begging, Peter looked at him, called for his attention, 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” (v. 6). Being carried to the temple gates that morning, he would have been glad if with one donation he’d have enough to get by that day. He would have been thrilled if, with a single gift, he’d have all he needed for the rest of the week. With the prospect of a one lump sum providing enough to live on for the rest of his life, he would have been overjoyed. And that’s precisely what the apostles offered—a gift beyond what any amount in alms could accomplish. Peter extended his arm to the man, raised him up, and he was healed: “His feet and ankles were made strong” (v. 7). Not only was the man able to walk, but the joy that filled him was such that he went forward “walking and leaping and praising God” (v. 8).
The gift of bodily healing the man received that day restored him in a way a gift of gold or silver alone could not have. Having his legs healed penetrated to the source of his pain, disability, and privation. Now, able to walk, the man could carry his daily activities out on his own and perhaps earn a living, not to mention other enjoyable activities. But the story doesn’t stop there. We find that something more than outward healing had taken place. The bodily healing he experienced traced to an even deeper source of restoration, namely, a change in the position of the man’s heart. Through “faith in the name of Jesus” (v. 16), the man was made strong, healed not only of a genetic disability but unto “perfect health”—even of his soul.
Perhaps you or a loved one is need of that deeper source of healing today. Certainly, God is able to (and does) heal our bodies, finances, and relationships, but the greatest news is that our faith accomplishes the soul-level health that brings eternal life.