And there sat a certain man at Lystra, weak in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:…
1. This man would not be admitted into a drawing room; he would be a spot on any feast of high conviviality; but Christianity always begins with the cripples. It will begin anywhere. Its one cry is, "Give me a man," and in reply to this the cripple has always been given. This is the defence of the Church, that it shuts out no man, but finds a seat even for the cripple who cannot stand.
2. Paul perceived "that he had faith to be healed." That man is here; don't tell me you are not a Christian; your being here means Believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. What you want is the faith to use faith, confidence to use the power you have. The great, kind sea waits for you. It is a great easy nurse, and says, "Come, throw yourselves right upon me, and you shall not sink." Who can tell but that some poor soul now may say, "Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief"? If so, this will be the day of miracle.
3. I wish we could be as sure that Paul is here as that the cripple is. You have here an illustration of Paul's insight into character. Not long since we noticed that Barnabas "saw the grace of God." What eyes those men had. They knew faith when it was only a light in the face, a gleam in the eye. There is more faith in the world than the preachers have yet conceived. We make great mistakes in confounding one character with another, and in mistaking the symptoms that are offered in order to deceive the very elect. Many a man laughs to keep you off the scent; whilst under his assumed gaiety his heart is suffering from the bite of an adder. Many a man is silent who wants to speak. You have thought him cold, distant, indifferent, whereas in his heart he has been saying, "Would God I knew how to begin." Let us pray for the spirit of discerning, and so use that spirit as to bring men who have taken one step on the right road forward on their journey.
4. Why did Paul speak "with a loud voice"? Some people object to loud voices — they say they could hear quite well if the preacher did not exert himself so. It is not enough to hear — you must overhear. An utterance must not deliver its own syllables only, but take with it heart, fire, life. If you had spoken with a sublimer audacity you would have elicited a nobler reply. People knew that Christ spoke with authority, and Paul's heart went with his voice, and his every syllable was glorified into a power.
5. Not only had Paul keen insight into the character of others, he had also keen insight into his own spirit. That kept him right. The high priest of Jupiter was prepared to offer sacrifice to him; but he cried, "We also are men of like passions with you." Their self-knowledge was, humanly speaking, their salvation. If we knew ourselves we could not so inhale the incense of adulation as to lose our balance. Let all men know themselves to be but men, and then eulogium will bring with it honest encouragement, and instead of offering sacrifices, we shall offer the nobler homage of confidence and love.
6. This narrative throws some light upon Christianity itself. Christianity makes people do what they never did before. The man had never walked. Christianity does not make us do things a little better than we did them before; it makes us do things we and the world thought it impossible for us ever to do. When the priest of Jupiter saw what was done, he was prepared to put the knife to Jupiter's own throat. Christianity must vindicate itself by the men it makes. Convince the priests of Jupiter, not by eloquent reasoning, but by noble manhood.
7. The man "leaped and walked." You cannot leap long — the law of gravitation is against that — but you can walk all your lifetime. A man leaping always is beside himself; a man walking has serious business, and he is going to do it. We cannot live in raptures, but we must leap at first. Those who have seen God, and have received of His strength, mount up as on the wings of eagles: then they run, then they walk. It would be pleasant to see some of us leaping a little. Without enthusiasm, what is the Church? It is Vesuvius without fire; it is Niagara without water; it is the firmament without the sun.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: