Cross and Flame - Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame).

Broke but not Empty

Broke But Not Empty

Introduction

We find ourselves at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple.  It is 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon and Jewish community is gathering for prayer service.  As is his custom, a lame man lies at the gate begging for money. This day his life will change because of two men of God with no money who will hear his cry and answer him.

Begging at the temple is nothing new.  People sometimes hang around churches waiting for people to come out so they can ask for money.  Sometimes we are coerced into giving them money because we feel guilty; we might feel it is what we are supposed to do as Christians; and sometimes we don’t know how to say “no.”  We might listen to their story and we might not.

The Jewish religious were used to giving to the poor.  They gave alms.  If you were a godly person, this is what you did.  It was also felt that this would please God and put you in favor with God.

Peter and John’s attention was welcomed.  It gave the man a sense of expectation.  These 2 men were different.

  • They acknowledged him and did not ignore him
  • They demanded his attention and did not rush by
  • They talked to him and not at him or about him

*There is a good lesson here on entering into relationship with other people.  Pay attention to people.  Seek to know who you’re talking to and give them some attention.  People like to feel that someone cares.

Can you imagine how this man felt?  Joy had begun to bubble up inside of him.  Finally someone heard his cry and did not look down on him because he lay on a pallet with legs that didn’t move and had to beg.  And then Peter spoke “silver and gold I do not have…”

The surge of joy slowly fizzles out but he is still engaged because the conversation continues: “…but what I have I give you.”

*Have you heard the cry of the needy?  What would you have to give? 

The man wanted money; they gave him Jesus.  Several places in the bible we find that people ask for one thing and the Lord gives them what He knows they need.

  • When Paul and Silas were in jail, they were asked by the jailer “what must I do to be saved?” In this particular situation, he was referring to being saved from the punishment that was coming because the prisoners’ shackles were broken in the jail house rock and they had gotten away.  He was not referring to his eternal soul.

Peter offers the man a new beginning.   In the name of Jesus of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.  He speaks with authority because he had been given authority to do this work.  He used this authority to exercise power to heal.  He then reaches out to the man.  It is a gesture that prompts the man’s participation in the healing process.  He is encouraged to exercise his faith.  He believes and the miracle is manifested right before the people’s eyes.

The man who had lain at the gate in capacitated could now walk through the gate.  The man who had to look at the sandals of people walk by could now join in the worship that before he was only privileged to hear.  He acknowledges that his help came from the Lord and he worships him in Spirit and truth.  It is interesting that this is the fulfillment of Scripture from Isaiah 35:6.

The apostles were broke.   The story could have stopped here.  I remember when I did not have money to do anything outside of the norm.  I did not go out to eat because that cost money and I could cook.  I did not attend baby showers or wedding showers because if I could afford a gift, it looked pale against the beautifully store wrapped gifts.  I sewed because I could not afford to buy clothes but I could afford fabric.

We can let poverty engulf us or we can look within and see what we really have to give.  I dared to tell someone the reason I did not come to the showers, etc.  I was surprised at their answer.  They were happy with just my presence.  All of us have something to give and it isn’t always money.

But they were not empty.  What they had to give was more than money could buy.  If they had given the man money it would not have changed his situation.  His friends would have picked him up on his pallet and taken him back home and it would have started all over again the next day.

The apostles were an example of God in our midst seeing beyond what we think we need and providing what we really need.  If they had given the man money, he may not have been moved to look to the mountain from whence cometh his help.  Think about it, Peter’s words to the man were to LOOK UP.  This indicates that he was looking down.  He was beginning but he did not want to look his benefactors if any, in the face.  He was ashamed.  He did not expect anybody to care.  He was there begging but it was a gamble.

In our life experiences and our encounters with the Christ, we are encouraged to LOOK UP.  Jesus wants to see Him, know Him, and acknowledge His presence.  It is discouraging to hear those of us called Christians back away from really trusting God.  How can you experience the new mercies of God every morning if you insist on living in yesterday?

When the children of Israel were given manna in the desert, they were told to get what they needed for one day.  We pray “Give us this day” our daily bread.  The blessings of today are lost in the memories of yesterday.

The Lord calls out this day to His people.  “Take His outstretched hand and be elevated to a new position in him.  It is His blessings to you.”   You have been faithful over a few things; it is time to make you ruler over many things.

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