(watch here: https://youtu.be/NdooEYxJqyw)
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
This morning’s reading reminds me of the one about an old man who attended one of those faith healing sessions you see on the tv. The preacher called the man down to the center aisle, placed his hands on the man’s shoulders, and with a very loud, theatrical voice cried out, “Now stand up and walk!” The old man proceeded to stand up from his wheelchair and slowly walked. The shocked crowd yelled in praise. The preacher held a microphone up to the old man and asked him, “Well, how ya feeling now?” The old man sheepishly replied, “Goooood…but I still can’t see.”
Now you’d think that tv preacher would’ve done a little homework before he went off and performed one of his “miracle” healings! Maybe had one of his lackeys ask the old man what ailed him. Or perhaps simply noticed the old man’s eyes weren’t working quite right. Silly tv preachers…all for show most of the time. It’s hard not to be skeptical of their so-called “miracle” healings. Some of them don’t even know what they’re supposed to be healing!
Not that Peter and John mistakenly healed the lame man of a false ailment. That’s not how the Bible works, putting up all sorts of smoke and mirrors just to con us in our belief. No, the man in today’s reading definitely couldn’t walk since birth and Peter and John definitely healed him with the power of Christ. It’s interesting that our lectionary has chosen to lift up this incidence during this season of Lent. It doesn’t really highlight the impact of Jesus’ resurrection, at least not overtly. I suppose it illustrates how Jesus’ power of healing continued on after his death and resurrection. Jesus is alive through the miraculous healings of his disciples. Jesus no longer needs a body to perform his miracles, not in the sense of a body pre-death. Jesus lives on in those who believe. Initially he lived on through his disciples but his body has grown to include ALL faithful believers. WE are the body of Christ and as such Christ can perform his miraculous healings through us too. Perhaps the living Christ revealed in the healing of the lame man is what our lectionary is asking us to reflect on.
Or maybe this encounter between Peter and John and the lame man is meant to teach us how we are to react to the risen Christ. Yes, Jesus is alive and well in the world today and can be revealed through miraculous healing around the world. But I think we easily forget this and/or fail to celebrate this, at least not to the same degree as the lame man did once he received the ability to walk. As we heard in the text, the man was “walking and leaping and praising God” after he was healed. And not just healed by a physician or man of medicine but by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth! It was Jesus working through Peter and John that healed him! JESUS HEALS! Of course, this isn’t some new revelation. He’s been healing countless people since he walked the earth in bodily form 2,000 years ago. People then and now can testify to his miraculous healing in their lives. That’s probably what he’s best known for, his healing touch…well, that and his unconditional love. But l like to think we need this story of the lame man being healed not only illustrates how Jesus continues to heal but also how we are to properly react to such healing. We are to continually give God thanks for his miraculous healing in our own lives as well as the lives of those around us. God is continually healing us and the world around us. We ought to be living joyfully and gratefully and graciously. Christ died but he rose again! Christ is risen, he is risen indeed! Alleluia! In dying and rising, he, in a sense, healed us of our slavery to sin and death. He healed us of our sicknesses of fear and doubt! We can live healthy because of what he did for us! Jesus’ death and resurrection was a great act of healing the world over! Now then, how are we to react to such healing? With joyful praise and thanksgiving just as the lame man did.
Or put a slightly different way, we are to give God the glory for all that He has done for us and continues to do for us. God deserves the glory! As if I have any authority to declare what God deserves or doesn’t deserve…but I hope you get what I’m trying to tell you. Our God is an awesome God and his acts of grace and mercy are endless. He above anything deserves the glory! He above anything deserves our love and praise! Our God is a good and gracious God! Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (10:31) Everything we do in this world, everything we have in this world, everything we are in this world…everything is a gift from God. We must always give him the glory. How? Again, we hear Paul a little earlier in his first letter to the Corinthians, “for you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (6:20) Jesus bought us with his life; he healed us with his life. Our thoughts and actions should reflect our gratitude for this. We should live humbly, kindly, selflessly, honestly, and mercifully. We should love God and love each other. And above all, we should live joyously. Jesus’ death and resurrection means nothing if we won’t live joyously. It is within us all to live joyously! Life is too short to live otherwise. Jesus healed us and continues to heal us and for that we must give God the glory. Who knows, maybe this whole pandemic is another healing act of God; healing a broken world, broken relationships, broken economies, broken governments, broken faiths, broken environment, broken bodies, broken promises…perhaps even a broken church. Regardless, Jesus healed and continues to heal so let us be particularly joyful as we continue through this season of Easter. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.