In Acts chapter 3 there is the familiar story of Peter and John going up to the temple to pray and healing a beggar who was asking for alms. Most believers are familiar with Peter addressing the beggar with the command:- “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Peter pulled him up to his feet and he could instantly walk. When we have read a story in the Bible so many times there is the danger that we overlook the details or make assumptions. On one occasion I heard a preacher on Christian television speak on this miracle noted that as the man healed was forty years old he had probably been begging at this spot for years and that Jesus must have walked passed many times on his visits to the temple and chose not to heal him. The preacher, I forget who it was, went on to say this raised theological issues as to why Jesus chose ignore him. However, the passage does not say that he had been begging there for years, so that it is a potentially dangerous assumption. The passage states that he was brought to this place by his friends. That might mean that he had not been there previously, therefore, there is no need for theological anguish. I can think of two possible reasons why Jesus would not have seen this beggar, the first is that Jesus’ visits to the Temple that are recorded in Scripture were at the Jewish Feasts when the approaches to the Temple would have been so crowded that any beggar would have risked being trodden underfoot, and the beggar would have avoided the area at that time. The second is that the steps approaching the Temple were considered part of Temple so that the beggar had the approval of the Temple authorities, which probably meant that they were getting a share in the beggar’s takings. Putting it another way would the Temple authorities want to mar the beauty of the beautiful gate with beggars unless there was something in it for them? When Jesus cleansed the Temple he stopped an important revenue flow for the Temple authorities, consequently it should have been expected that they would seek alternative sources.
Returning to the mention of the beggar’s friends who carried him to the spot, presumably in the morning. As Jewish men traditionally prayed three times a day, morning afternoon and evening, it is possible that Peter and John had seen the beggar being carried there earlier and given any alms they had then. But the healing caused such a stir that the apostles could not leave the Temple. Now one would have expected his friends to have arrived back to pick him up in the evening. What was their reaction? Luke does not say. But if they were expecting to be rewarded with a cut of his takings then they were going to be disappointed. It was around this time that the apostles were arrested. Coincidence? When the actions of our faith hurt the pockets of our enemies then that is when persecution arises. At the apostles’ trial the following morning the beggar was there with them. His presence certainly restricted what the Sanhedrin could say and do. Were they afraid that he might spill the beans? Of course, I could just be cynical here, but human nature has not changed in 2000 years. Luke gives the official reason for Peter and John’s arrest as because they were preaching about the resurrection. But Peter had preached on the resurrection at Pentecost as well without being arrested, so there were probably would have been unofficial ones as well. Luke because he was, it is believed, compiling evidence for use in Paul’s appeal to Caesar, would not have given any reason that was mere hearsay or suspicion. Only that which would be accepted in a court of law would have been included.
David Rose, 2014.