“I do not possess silver and gold”

Luke, the author of Acts, retells the story of the lame beggar in Acts 3:1-10:

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

When I read these verses I cannot help but play out the scene in my head.  Here lies this beggar who gets continually passed over day after day; ignored like some nuisance, unworthy of anyone’s time.  But one day two men speak to him, and say “Look at us!”  Obviously his reaction would be that of hope.  For once someone acknowledges him, and that must mean that he will receive some money.  Sadly, those two men inform him that do not have what he hoped for (silver and gold).  Instead they say, “what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Then one of those men proceeds to lift him up by the hand.

Luke does not include in his story the man’s initial reaction, but rather only writes of the man’s reaction after he begins to feel the strength returning to his legs.  I cannot help but wonder what the beggar’s initial reaction was.  Did he trust Peter and John right from the start? Or did he wonder, “Well if you do not have money to give me then what else could you possibly have to offer?”  When I read these verses, I picture this man rolling his eyes as soon as Peter says, “I do not possess silver and gold.”  I picture him uncomfortable and confused as Peter reaches for hand and begins to pull him to his feet.  And I picture him shocked, awed, and joyful as he holds himself up for the first time in his life and begins to walk!  What started out as a disappointing, uncomfortable encounter, forever changes this beggar’s life.

Not only are these verses fun to read and play out in my imagination, but they also teach me a lesson.  Like Peter and John, I may not always be able to give or serve monetarily in every situation, but I can give of myself and my experience and knowledge that comes from my relationship with God.  Like in this story of the lame beggar, although money was an important, vital need of this man, it was not necessarily the best way in which Peter and John could serve him.  On that day, at three in the afternoon, the beggar received something far greater than silver and gold, he discovered the power of Jesus Christ.

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