Reading for Tuesday, April 10: Acts 3
After the wide-angle lens of 2.42-47, Luke shifts to an episode rife with particularity: two disciples (Peter and John) in a specific location (the Beautiful Gate) sharing Jesus with one individual in need (a man lame from birth).
Peter and John continue the practice of regular prayer, modeled in the life of Jesus and perpetuated by Jewish custom. The fact that Peter and John continue to go to the temple to pray indicates that they did not understand following Jesus as a clean break from their past. As many others have stated, Jesus did not come to create a “new” religion; instead, His disciples understand Jesus as the continuation of God’s covenantal faithfulness to His people. He is the fulfillment of Law and Prophecy. They continue to go to the temple for prayer, armed now with a new, deeper understanding of God’s faithfulness. But Jesus has not called them to wholesale abandonment of their religious traditions.
As they journey, they come upon a lame man petitioning them for alms. “And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said ‘Look at us,'” (v4). Peter and John are the antithesis of the Luke 10 characters — the priest and the Levite who are too preoccupied with “pious things” to give attention to the injured man. John and Peter are exemplars of God’s Kingdom, adherents to an economy that values people over piety. Their commitment to the orthodox hour of prayer is subjugated to the explicit need in front of them.
God’s Kingdom economy is one of generosity: “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (v6). And the name of Jesus is powerful once again to reverse fortunes: the man stands…but Luke says he leaps with “feet and ankles…made strong” (v7). And all who witness this are filled with wonder and amazement.
Peter, never one to miss an opportunity in the spotlight, addresses the crowd with an even more powerful testimony: “Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus…God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness,” (v19-20, 26). The miraculous healing of this lame man provides occasion for Peter to proclaim Jesus and the penitent life He wills for us.
The gates to the Kingdom are beautiful indeed, adorned not with “silver and gold” — of which Peter has none (v6) — but with mercy and compassion and new life.
And this is Good News, indeed.