In The Name Of Jesus Christ Of Nazareth, Walk
BY TIMOTHY LOPEZ
Key Verse 3:6
“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’”
Today’s passage shows us an up close and personal example of this wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. It shows us how God used two formerly weak and poor disciples of Jesus to powerfully and richly give the gift of Christ’s love and life to one needy person. These disciples, who were once helplessly paralyzed with the power of fear, courageously reached out their hands to help one suffering person. They helped him to receive more than what he had ever thought possible for himself to have.
Let’s read verse one. “One day, Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer-at three in the afternoon.” Who were these men, Peter and John, who were going up to the temple, and why were they going there? They were two of Jesus’ close disciples who were really very different. They were different in age, different in opinion, different in gifts and totally different in character. At times they had also been rivals for Jesus’ love and attention. But besides that, they were walking together side by side to the temple at the hour of prayer. Their lives were seasoned with prayer. When we pray together, with all of our differences, God works wonderfully among us.
Read verse 2:“Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.” [The temple expansion of Herod the Great began in BC 19 and was completed in CE 62 (long after the end of Herod’s reign) only a few years before it was destroyed by the Romans in CE 70. Herod’s temple is called the “Second Temple in many respects similar to Solomon’s Temple (referred to as the First Temple). The inside of Herod’s temple was lavishly decorated with Cedar paneling, carved with flowers, palm-trees and cherubim, coverings of gold. The gate called Beautiful was the gate entrance where the money offerings of silver and gold were given.]
Put yourself in his shoes. Consider a world without wheelchairs and no government assistance. This man was constantly hoping to win the sympathy of others just to barely survive. He’s actually living at others’ mercy all the time. What does he think when others don’t look at him? What goes on in his head when people say: “No, I gave you yesterday.” He felt low— like a worm. He’s constantly calculating in his head: “who might give me something.” That’s the pattern of his life. “Who will help me?” People created in the image of God— to rule the earth with love and sacrifice— grow up believing that it’s okay to take advantage of other’s kindness and sympathy! We do this all the while thinking that if I don’t, I’m a dead man. People created in the image of God were not meant to be reduced to that! If we live like this, there’s no room in our hearts to thank God for anything— let alone his sweet grace. A heart like this is too anxious to reflect on God’s grace and provision. Everyday of this man’s life he was carried from one spot to another to beg and con others for a few coins to survive. I don’t think that we can hardly understand the misery of this beggar. But the beautiful truth of today’s passage is that God himself deeply understands all his children’s anguish and suffering! Still, we don’t have to be in the same position as others to understand their misery so as to help them. But it’s important that we try. Why? Because God is usually more concerned with our availability to help others rather than with our ability to help them. And God wants to eagerly bless his people through us by revealing Christ to them.
Now let’s put on the disciples’ shoes for a second. What do you think their reaction would be in seeing this man? So many people would turn a blind eye to the beggar. What could they possibly do for someone like him except to pity him, or give him a few scraps of food or a coin or two! Actually most people despair when they see someone in his situation. Even if someone isn’t physically paralyzed— maybe they’re emotionally, mentally, or spiritually paralyzed, the reaction is mostly the same. Whatever the case, people eventually numb their hearts, thinking that “There’s not much I can do”. Most people are paralyzed by something or another. The power of sin has worked it’s way in our hearts us making captives to our fears, our lusts, and all sorts of inner weaknesses. We are dragged here or there being held at the mercy of whatever paralyzes us. Many of our churches are filled with members like that. Many here are like that. I myself am like that. But take heart! God’s love towards us is great, even when no one else knows what to do. God doesn’t want his children to remain paralyzed. We’re all supposed to get up off the ground in His power and love living life to the fullest. As Jesus once said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Let’s read verses 3 & 4. “When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’” We should look at this incident not just as a beggar being healed, but we should want to know how he was healed. We should also want to know what actually happened that made this man well, and sent him leaping and praising God with joy, and that later sparked the conversion of 2000 believers (Acts 4:4) We have to look at this event within the context of everything that happened. So, as this man was begging for money, two of the people passing by him happened to be the apostles Peter and John. Peter then “looked” at him. The Greek word used for the word looked means to, behold earnestly, or gaze intently. So we should ask ourselves: “what was happening there? What was Peter thinking? What is the spiritual transaction going on here? We know that something very significant happened here at the moment. This man was put here every day, and every day Peter and John went up to the temple to pray. Therefore, something now had to make this day different than all the rest.
Read verse 5. “So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.” What happened when this man finally gave the apostles his attention? Obviously he expected to get something from them, surely a few extra coins! However, it’s significant to know that the problem with him isn’t so much that he expected something from them— but that he expected so little! It would have been a very good and productive and fruitful day for him if Peter would just give him a few extra coins! Sadly, that would have been enough to satisfy him! And that’s usually our own problem too! Those of us who are content with where we are in life usually only expect a little relief from our troubles, from our handicaps, from our sufferings and so on! We would settle for a comfortable house, a well-balanced life, a fair job with some vacation time. That’s the problem! So many of us are wasting our lives away to go after these small things! Did God fearfully and wonderfully create us to be satisfied with the small things of this world? Instead he made us to fulfill his calling in our lives and to delight our souls in Him! Did God promise Abraham a stable and comfortable life? No! But God told him, “I am your shield, your very great reward.” Did Jesus ask us to wait comfortably here on earth until it’s time to go to heaven? No! He said that those who believe in him would do what he did? No, he promised that we would do even greater things. Today, is that our vision? Are we looking to do greater things? If we are paralyzed by something or another we should not be okay with it! We should expect the great treasures of heaven to be poured on us. We should be expecting revival and deep repentance, as well as all the fruits of the Spirit. We should expect nothing less than the glory of God’s kingdom to descend upon our nation. Peter knew that this man expected nothing more than a couple of crumb. Yet he walked up to him with confidence, knowing Jesus’ love for this man and did exactly what Jesus equipped him to do for him at the time. And this man’s eyes were opened to see God’s great grace and mercy for himself. We also need to expect great things from God, and we need to ask for great things from God.
Let’s read verse 6. “Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’” The crippled beggar expected a few coins from Peter. But Peter didn’t have even one coin to give him. We know how much material things occupy so much of people’s lives. It often seems as if no one can do anything without money. Yet look at these apostles! They were really poor. But they weren’t bitter or discouraged because of it. In fact, they felt as if they were the richest people on earth. Why? Because although they were materially derelict, they knew they had a treasure far more precious than anything this world could ever have. What did they have that was so precious, more precious than silver or gold? They had Jesus! They believed and trusted in the powerful name of Jesus of Nazareth the Savior of the world, who lived in their hearts and ruled heavens and earth from God’s throne. And out of their heavenly wealth, they were ready to offer Jesus to this helplessly paralyzed man!
Most people think that all this man needed was a handout. But Peter and John didn’t think so at all. They believed that what this man really needed more than anything else is to invite Jesus into his heart. Why? Because only Jesus could set him free from the power of sin and only Jesus in his heart could make him happy— not money nor anything else! Only Jesus of Nazareth could deliver him from his crippling fatalism and despair. What this man really needed was for his sins to be forgiven, and for his heart to be revived and for the Holy Spirit to make him a new man in Christ. Who else but Jesus could restore this man’s dignity as a human being, raise him up from where he lay defeated, and give him a new life? Peter and John had witnessed Jesus of Nazareth give life not only to a cripple, but also to a man dead in his sin. So they wanted to give this man the same treasure they themselves witnessed and received in Jesus. They knew that Jesus of Nazareth, the good shepherd, wanted nothing more than to reveal his glory in this man’s life.
So Peter and John did not hesitate to offer him an invitation to put his faith in Christ Jesus. “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”. It was “Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Jesus” that Peter and John were offering this man (16). They offered him Jesus’ love and grace and mercy. By faith they challenged him to no longer remain where he laid most of his life, but to receive healing in Jesus’ name. Why were they so confident that Jesus had the power to restore him? Because they knew Jesus personally and his love. They themselves had been restored through the name of Jesus who loved them and helped them be restored from their own paralyses to becoming great men of God. Peter was once an unstable man paralyzed by his own erratic emotions. But Jesus came into his life and changed him into a stable man steady as a rock. Finally Peter became the rock of the early church. John was once also a man of anger and rage. But Jesus came into his life and changed h him into an apostle of grace and love. These disciples knew that only Jesus could change a person, regardless of what he or she are paralyzed with and the degree of their paralysis. Peter and John believed that all this man really needed was Jesus in his life. I too believe that what everyone needs— especially young students— is Jesus in their lives. Whatever their paralysis may be— whether they are paralyzed by unbelief or cynicism or indifference or physical desires— or anything else, Jesus’ name can raise them as great men and women of God. Listen to Peter’s words: “But what I have I give you.” We too have exactly what Peter has and much more even! We have the living loving Jesus in our own hearts and lives. We have his words in a Bible full of truth. So we too can give what we have— the name of Jesus. Sadly, many haven’t realized yet what they really have.
Let’s read verses 7 & 8. “Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” It was in the authority of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that this man was healed. Certainly, it wasn’t in the disciples’ own authority. We have no authority on our own— and by ourselves we can’t help anyone. We need the authority that is in Christ Jesus and his name to serve those who are helplessly caught in sin and paralyzed by its power. Without the authority of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the cross that you and I are called to carry— or the work we are called to do for the Lord— is just too heavy and burdensome. That’s why we need to continuously put our trust in Christ Jesus and rely on him and his name and authority to serve his purpose.
The first thing Peter did was to ask the crippled beggar to look at him— specifically to look him in the eye. He did this so that the man could give him his full attention. Peter wanted to acknowledge this person as a child of God— as one of the most precious human beings alive— and not only a forgotten useless beggar! The second thing Peter did was to give him the precious name of Jesus, a gift worth a lot more than the few coins he expected and would have settled for. Thirdly, Peter also challenged him to put his faith in Jesus’ name, and to hope in Jesus’ name and person. In other words, Peter clearly planted hope and faith in this beggar’s despaired heart.
Finally, look what Peter did! He took him by the hand and helped him up! Peter understood this all man’s weakness and helplessness. It would be much easier for this man to remain in his paralysis than to make an effort to stand up and to struggle by himself. What does this mean? Peter didn’t give him the name of Jesus and then walk away from him. He didn’t leave him to struggle by himself with this new found faith in Jesus. Instead peter took him by the hand and helped him up. He shepherded him from beginning to end. He stayed right there with him until he could rise up and begin to walk on his own. Even then, Peter was willing to help him take a few steps. How is this relevant? Sometimes spiritual failures happen when there’s no one to extend a helping hand, or to pick us up from where we lay overcome and defeated. But look at these apostles! They were committed to helping this man from beginning to end. There are some strongholds that new believers are delivered from right away. But then there are some that take time to get up from. However, with the help of committed brothers and sisters who in their love assist us, we can eventually overcome all hindrances to our spiritual lives. Thank God for those who always stand by our side to help us up. How beautiful are such acts of shepherd’s love in the name of Jesus.
Actually Peter learned this from Jesus and did what Jesus did and continues to do— to take a suffering person by the hand and help them up until they could walk again. It was what Jesus had done for Peter and John and for all the disciples. One by one, Jesus took them by the hand and helped them up until they were healed and could walk all by themselves in the new life he gave them. On our own we can do nothing. But when we serve others with the authority and shepherd love of Jesus Christ, many glorious miracles of transformation happen. I remember how often my coworkers in the ministry took me by the hand and helped me up every time I weakened and fell into sin. Now by the grace of the Lord Jesus, I am the one who takes others by the hand to help them up.
Look at verse 8 again. “He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts jumping and praising God.” What this man did after he received healing was amazing. He went into the temple and praised God at the top of his voice. He could have gone anywhere. He could have gone home to celebrate. Where would you go, and what would you do if it were you? Without a second thought, the healed man went into the temple thanking and praising God for what the Lord had done for him. This was not only the evidence of this man’s physical healing, but of his spiritual healing as well! It is clear that was healed in his heart as well. Once, in his paralyzed situation, he couldn’t do anything but complain about everything. Once, he couldn’t help but think dark thoughts about life and God. But now, his heart was healed of all the elements of darkness that had once paralyzed him. He was fully restored as a wonderful human being created in God’s image to praise God and to give him the glory. A thankful heart towards God is the sign of a spiritually healthy heart. I’m not saying that we don’t struggle or have a hard time. But a spiritually healthy child of God praises and thanks God for his grace and submits to his sovereign will. What can help us maintain a thankful heart full of praise in this troublesome and difficult world we live in? Only the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the authority of his name can do this for us.
Read verses 9-11. “When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.” We later see that it was the change in the man’s heart and life that led many people genuinely accept the gospel. This man’s healing was not only for his own blessing. God used it for his own glory by making it an opportunity for others to be challenged to accept the gospel through repentance and faith. Your and my example of deep struggle can ignite gospel faith into the lives of others. That’s the real miracle— when others see our changed lives in Christ— when they witness our hearts and mouths praising God rather than comlaining— and when they see one paralyzed person get up in the name of Jesus and walk. That’s the power of faith in the name of Jesus.