Monday, May 11, 2020
Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!’ And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
Growing up around downtown Norfolk, I’ll never forget seeing an old beggar sitting at the same spot every day beside the steps of a large department store.
He had stumps for legs and he sat on a large board with wheels, which served as his only means of transportation. I dropped money in his cup as often as I could, and he would respond with a toothy grin and a polite “thank you.”
He wasn’t a phony like others. He clearly hadn’t devised a clever story about how he needed money for his dying child’s operation.
The truth was painfully obvious. He was crippled, alone, and utterly dependent upon the mercy of others.
This is exactly the kind of desperate man Peter found lying at the gate of the temple. He too sat in the same spot every day, having no business prospects or relationship prospects.
But as soon as Peter speaks the Name of Christ and commands him to “Walk,” muscles are immediately created, joints and tendons are reattached to bones, and muscle memory is installed in the man’s brain!
Can you imagine this scene? Here in the temple, where pious leaders are praying long prayers and hundreds of people are fulfilling their routine rituals, the unmistakable sound of genuine, ecstatic worship breaks out!
Upon hearing it, however, Acts 4:1-3 informs us that the Sadducees and priests become disturbed. They don’t repent. They don’t join in the celebration. They just try to drown it out.
Frankly, the only difference between these religious leaders and this beggar is that this beggar sees himself as he is. When he looks at himself in the mirror, he comes to only one definitive conclusion: I am wretched.
How about you today? Have you forgotten how destitute you were before Christ reached down and saved you? Has your worship of Christ become routine, or is it born from a genuine love of Him?
Grace was amazing to that old slave trader John Newton because he realized what an undeserving man he was. You have sung his song, “Amazing Grace”, many times, but do you live in light of the truth that grace saved a wretch like me?
Don’t forget who you are as you go about your day. It will change the way you view others. It will fill your relationships with humility. It will fuel your devotion to God even through the hard times.
Martin Luther’s last recorded words were, “We are beggars. That is true.” So preach that truth to yourself in the mirror today. There are no natural-born princes or princesses in the body of Christ . . . just paupers who have been adopted by grace.
Prayer Point: Think back on some of the things you’ve thought, done, and said that have made you completely undeserving of God’s grace. Really ponder how undeserving you were before Christ saved you and how destitute you still are today. Don’t get up from your knees until that realization moves you to praise and thanksgiving!
Extra Refreshment: There is a similar story of grace in 2 Samuel 9, where King David shows favor to Saul’s last living relative: a crippled grandson. Read that chapter and notice how David’s gift and Mephibosheth’s response provide emphatic parallels to the Gospel.