Every big city has beggars. The sheer numbers of people making their way to and through the city center provide a steady opportunity for the sick, lame, & down on their luck, to eke out a living begging, albeit always dependent on the benevolence of others.
Jerusalem was no exception. Acts 3 tells the story of one man, lame from birth, that every day was carried to the “Beautiful Gate” of the Temple in the early afternoon in order to catch the crowds coming & going from the Temple at the hour of prayer (3 p.m.). He’d been there every day of his life, which means that he was ‘known’ and recognized; not by name most likely, but as “the lame guy at the Beautiful Gate.”
Unnamed in Acts, the lame man was anonymous; most likely, passerby didn’t stop to talk & interact to see how he was. If his situation was like that of the beggars I have seen & observed, people rushed by him, avoided eye contact, hoped to miss all interaction with him & to just sneak by without having to give alms.
And somewhere along the way, the lame man had learned to just look out at the world, at everything & nothing, to avoid even a little of the dehumanizing experience his helpless begging had reduced him to.
Until Peter & John came by… & stopped. Peter said, “Look at us.” He made eye contact. He addressed him directily. He wasn’t speaking to a beggar; he was addressing a man, a fellow Israelite, an equal. And he healed him in Jesus’ Name.
I love the picture of this guy being so excited at being able to walk that he is literally JUMPING for joy, praising God at the top of his lungs because he has experienced a touch from God that changed his life forever.
And he experienced a connection with another person, who tangibly showed the love of God by taking the time to listen to the Holy Spirit, & to respond to what the Spirit said.