In Acts 3, the story is told of a lame man who lays daily by a place he could have easy access to worshipers going to the temple for worship so he will ask them of alms. That is to be expected; people going for worship are generous he may have reckoned. Also, almsgiving was a normal part of Jewish society as it is today.
Almsgiving is a long-standing practice within the Judeo-Christian tradition. “Whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31; see also Proverbs 19:17; 21:13; 22:9; and 29:7). Jesus and His disciples gave money to the poor (John 12:6), and believers are to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). The godly Tabitha was eulogized as one who was continually “helping the poor” (Acts 9:36).¹
One fateful day for this lame man, two apostles of Jesus–Peter and John were going up the temple to pray (v.1). Then this lame man interrupted them:”Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.” (v.3). He has picked the correct pair one may think. These are apostles–Jesus’ very disciples and surely, they will be generous and give him something. The only problem was that they didn’t have any alms to give. However, the lame man was expectant: “And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them” (v.5).
The duo had no “silver and gold” to offer. But they had something more precious to offer. They had Jesus Christ. Instead of silver and gold, the man’s life was changed that day. Christ came into the situation. Peter spoke and said “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth , rise up and walk!” (v. 6)
We see an instant miracle taking place. In the name of Jesus his lame legs were ‘quickened” and he “leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple … walking and leaping and praising God.”(v.8). A miracle happened that day. The lame man received more than he expected. His condition was healed; in Jesus’ name–more precious than silver and gold, the man received his healing.
Now interestingly, we are told in the narration that he was lame from birth.
And a man lame from birth was being carried, s whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate t to ask alms of those entering the temple. (v.2) (emphasis mine)
There is an analogy we can draw from this fact pointing to the spiritual reality of all human beings born of a man and woman. We come into this world lame from birth in sin. We come dead in sin and cannot rise to praise God (Eph. 2:1; Rom 3:23; 6:23). Just like the lame man, we are stuck at one place in sin and are unable to come to God by ourselves. We need to be helped by the hearing of the gospel and the Holy Spirit’s quickening. The lame man though “silver and gold” were his greatest felt need then, Peter and John, filled with the Holy Spirit deciphered what the lame man truly needed: Jesus. Like this lame man, every sinner needs the life of Christ that comes through faith and repentance. Further down the narration; we hear the apostles telling the people “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (v.19). This was a gospel call after Peter had addressed and confronted them with their sins. Rightly so, we cannot know our need of a Saviour and repentance until we know our true spiritual state that we are lost. It is then God’s offer of salvation will make sense.
You have needs; no doubt and some may be very pressing needs. But whatever your need may be, it doesn’t exceed your need of a Saviour to save you from your sins. Your greatest need therefore is not silver and gold–material things. Your greatest need is of life from Christ Himself so that we are healed of our lameness in sin and brought alive to God. We all have a need of a Saviour and until we turn to Christ through faith for the remission of our sins; we are lame and dead in sin.
1. Gotquestions.org, ‘What are alms? What is almsgiving?’, https://www.gotquestions.org/alms-almsgiving.html, accessed 19th August, 2018