The Pastor's Blog

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RECIPIENTS OF GOD’S GREAT GRACE – THE MAN OUTSIDE THE GATE




Woe is me! Poor, poor, pitiful me.


A few days ago, I began to feel the symptoms of a cold. Sore throat, drainage, headache, cough… you’ve been there. A day later it got worse. COVID.


So there I sat, sequestered, quarantined, isolated, alone. Hack. Cough. Sputter.


While I was busy feeling sorry for myself, I had time to pray. I was reminded that there are many others who are sick, hurting, dying. The prayer list is long! A friend was in a hospital three-hundred miles from home, fighting for his life. Another pal was navigating a divorce, worrying about the devastating effects on his beloved daughters. And another friend was blindsided by a pink slip. Laid off. Jobless.


The Bible tells the story of a guy who, surrounded by people, sat alone, outside. Soon after Jesus had ascended into heaven, “Peter and John were going up to the temple for the time of prayer at three in the afternoon. A man who was lame from birth was being carried there. He was placed each day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so that he could beg from those entering the temple” (Acts 3:1–2).


The beggar was grateful to have friends and family. Every morning they graciously loaded him on his stretcher and carried him to the temple. Late in the evening they retrieved him, taking him to his cold and lonely hovel. Every day was the same.


Over forty years old (Acts 4:22), His miserable existence included nothing more than begging. As he rattled his tin cup hour after hour, he hoped to collect enough copper coins to buy a morsel of bread. The irony wasn’t lost on him. The not-so-beautiful beggar sat at the “Beautiful Gate.” He was dressed in rags. His hair was scraggly and matted and he hadn’t bathed.


As he sat in the golden arched gateway, he jealously watched the pilgrims entering. He’d never been inside. He wasn’t allowed. The law said, “No cripples allowed!” The leper, the lame, the blind, and the broken weren’t allowed. He was unclean, excluded.


So he begged.


He’d noticed Peter and John coming and going. He knew they were disciples of Jesus. So, as they approached, the beggar rattled his cup, extending it toward them. “Please! Alms for the poor!” “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6).


Without logical explanation, his legs tingled and twitched, his atrophied muscles hardened, and “he jumped up and started to walk, and he entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:8). Imagine it. Wobbly and worried at first, but soon clicking his heals together, singing, shouting, “Praise to Jesus! In the powerful name of Jesus, I’ve been healed!”


The lame beggar wasn’t healed because of a new exercise regimen, or physical therapy, or medicine or anything he did. He wasn’t healed because of Peter and John. They weren’t faith healers with extraordinary power in their touch. No. His life was restored because of the grace and power of Jesus.


You’re not alone, you’re not an outsider, and you’re not too “unclean.” Jesus beckons you to come close (Hebrews 4:15-16). “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”