Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.…
In this interesting incident we have an illustration of the urgent spiritual necessities of our race, and of the sufficiency of the gospel to meet them. We have -
I. A GREAT AND SAD CONTRAST. They brought daily to the Beautiful gate of the temple a lame beggar, who asked alms of all that entered (vers. 2, 3). What a striking contrast is here! - the large, strong, handsome gate, wrought by the most skilful workmen, intended to add beauty and attractiveness to the magnificent temple, an object of keen, universal admiration; and, laid down at the foot of it, a poor, ill-clad, deformed, helpless beggar, fain to find a miserable existence by asking the pity of all that passed through. Such contrasts has sin introduced into this world. If we look on this whole fabric of nature as a temple in which God manifests his presence, and on our earth, with all its loveliness and grandeur, as one of its beautiful gates, then we see, in strongest and saddest contrast with it, stricken, helpless, deformed human nature - man brought down to the very ground, unable to sustain himself, the pitiful object of compassion: we behold the fair workmanship of God with all its exquisite beauty, and we see sinning, erring, suffering, fallen man by its side.
II. A PICTURE OF SIN IN ITS STRENGTH. What more forcible illustration of this can he found than in a man lame from his birth (ver. 2)? One born to the heritage of mankind, viz. that of voluntary, happy activity; of walking, running, moving, whithersoever he would, with free power of motion, in all acts of duty, pleasure, affection; - this man doomed to utter helplessness, his deformity or disease becoming more rigid and incurable as the months and years pass by! What a picture, this, of our human spirit, created to enjoy the heritage of a holy intelligence, viz. that of free and happy activity in all the ways of righteousness, piety, usefulness; of moving joyously along all the paths in which God invites his children to walk; yet, from the very beginning, being utterly unable to walk in the way of his commandments, to run in the paths of wisdom and of peace, incapable of doing that for which it was called into being, and becoming more rigidly and hopelessly fixed in its spiritual incapacity year by year.
III. THE INTERVENTION OF THE GOSPEL OF GOD.
1. It demands attention. "Peter. . . with John, said, Look on us" (ver. 4). The gospel of Christ has a right to make this same appeal to all men. No seeking, struggling soul has a right to be regardless of its offers. The beneficent and mighty works of Jesus Christ; the profound spiritual truths he uttered; the beautiful and exalted life he lived; the strange and wondrous death he died; the message of love he left behind him; the adaptation, proved by eighteen centuries of human history, of his system to the deepest wants of human nature; - all these conspire to give to the gospel of God the right to demand attention - to say, "Look on me;" see whether there is not in me the help and healing which you need.
2. It disclaims certain offices. "Silver and gold have I none," etc. (ver. 6). The gospel does not offer to do everything for man which it may be desirable should, in some way, be done. It does not propose
(1) to effect renovation by revolutionary social changes, or
(2) to bring about immediate improvement in the outward conditions of a man's life, or
(3) to guarantee bodily health or immunity from temporal trouble and domestic loss. It tends to ameliorate the condition of mankind in every way, and ultimately it does so; but its first promise, and that by which it is to be tested and judged, is not of this order.
3. It offers one essential service. "In the Name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk" (ver. 6). It says to the stricken, wounded soul, "Wilt thou be made whole?" To the soul burdened with a sense of sin, it offers pardoning love and spiritual peace; to the heart oppressed with care and fear, it offers a Divine refuge in which to hide; to the soul struggling with temptation, an almighty Friend; to the weary traveler, a home of rest and joy. Whatever is the one imperative thing, that the gospel of Christ presents; but its offer is inward, spiritual, heavenly.
IV. THE BLESSED ISSUE. (Vers. 7-10.) This was:
1. Healing to him that had been helpless.
2. Gratitude showing itself in praise.
3. Interested attention on the part of those outside: "They were filled with wonder and amazement;" they were in a state most favorable for the reception of the truth. When we make an appeal to Christ, we are not to be satisfied until we have found spiritual recovery; until our souls are filled with the spirit of thanksgiving; until our restoration has told upon our neighbors as well as on ourselves. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.