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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Acts 3:110 comment (0)

May 22, 2014

By Catherine Lawrence

Related Scripture: Acts 3:110


Bible Studies for Life 
Department of Religion, Samford University

Hope Shared

Acts 3:1–10

Last week’s lesson focused on the apostle Peter. Peter failed in perhaps the worst way possible: three times he denied that he knew Jesus (John 18). Yet Jesus forgave him, restored him and entrusted him with the task of ministering to others in Jesus’ name (John 21). This week’s lesson also features Peter, but now, as the glad recipient of God’s great grace, he in turn extends grace and hope to one who was in desperate need.

(1–4)

Acts 3:1–10 describes a remarkable exchange between Peter and John and a lame man they encountered at the temple in Jerusalem. As was the custom of many Jewish Christians in the earliest days of the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46), Peter and John had gone up to the temple at the hour of prayer. The “hour of prayer” refers to the time of the afternoon sacrifice. Ordinarily a crowd would gather to pray as the priests carried out the sacrifice. Also at the temple during the hour of prayer that day was a man lame from birth who had come to beg for alms (that is, charitable gifts) from those entering the temple for the afternoon sacrifice. Where better to ask for charity than at the temple gate during one of the busiest times of the day? Since begging at the temple gate was the lame man’s daily practice, perhaps this was his primary (or only) means of gathering resources for himself. He likely received aid from some who entered the temple, but surely he also was well acquainted with disappointment as many others passed him by, day after day. On one particular day, however, the man’s plea for alms fell on the ears of Peter and John. The two apostles stopped and gave the lame man their full attention, which clearly gave the man hope that they were going to help him (Acts 3:4–5).

Surely it is significant that Peter and John did not ignore the lame man’s request. They did not simply hurry by him on their way to pray; rather, they saw the man’s need and stopped to help. Christians today have the opportunity to pay attention to the needs of others. People all around us need hope. How willing are we to see others’ needs and to hear their cries for help and hope?

(5–8)

The lame man expected to receive money from Peter and John. But Peter told the man he did not have any money to give him; instead, he would give him something even better: healing. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Peter told the man to stand up and walk. As Peter helped him up from the ground, the man immediately was healed. This one who had been lame from birth suddenly was able not only to stand but also to walk and even to leap as he entered the temple praising God (v. 8).

Christians today may not have the power to heal a person’s body, but we still can offer the hope of Christ to those who are hurting. We ourselves have experienced the love, forgiveness, grace and mercy of God. Now God can offer comfort and hope to others through us. How willing are we to be vessels God uses to breathe hope into the lives of others?

(9–10)

The lame man’s healing made a big impression on those in the temple who now saw him walking and praising God. People recognized him as the man who had sat begging for alms at the temple gate, and they were filled with “wonder and amazement” at what had happened to him. Though the text does not say it, we may hope that the temple crowd followed the lead of the formerly lame man after his healing by giving thanks and praise to God.

Notably the apostles shared hope with the lame man, but the man’s hope did not lie in them. Peter and John recede from view in verses 9–10, leaving readers with the picture of the healed man praising the One ultimately responsible for his healing.

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