The Set-up at the Gate Called Beautiful

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Acts 3:1-5 (NIV)

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 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. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

CONSIDER THIS

“The Spirit of Jesus in me greets the Spirit of Jesus in you and brings us together in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”

Let’s regain our bearings here on the day after the Day of Pentecost. We are in Acts 3 with our first real documented test case of the transferability of the ministry of Jesus to his followers. On Friday, I wrote:

We are at the scene of a wicked problem. And here’s the kicker. We are also at the gate to the temple. It gets better. The gate has a name. It is called, “Beautiful.” Here we are. It’s the day after the Day of Pentecost and we find ourselves at the intersection of a gate called Beautiful and a wicked problem. And did I mention we are on our way to a prayer meeting?

So what is the real wicked problem here? Is it poverty? I would say poverty is a small “p” problem. Here’s where the wicked problem shows up:

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.

See the layeredness here? Where do we start? Someone carried him to a place where he could beg for money every single day (sans Sabbath). Think that through. Does this qualify for the designation of where helping is hurting? There is a massive difference between helping people in poverty and helping them out of it. The more we give handouts to people in poverty the more we prevent them from ever being delivered from it. And I’m not saying don’t try to help with a handout. The issue is not handouts. The issue is relationship. Most of our churches are glad to try and help people in poverty. Few are willing to incorporate them into community. And this brings up the real wicked problem. Poverty is not really an economic problem but a relational one. People are poor not primarily because they lack financial resources but because they lack meaningful access and belonging to a redemptive community. 

Outside of redemptive community people size each other up as problems and solutions or rich and poor or haves and have-nots, or worse, as oppressors and oppressed. The first move of the Holy Spirit is to interrupt this cycle. Up to this moment, everyone is playing their day before the Day of Pentecost parts. 

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 

Peter and John are now filled with the Holy Spirit, leading to a major plot change.

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. 

You get the feeling time slowed way down here. You get the sense all the busy background noise dropped away. You get the sense there were only three people in the world now: Peter, John, and the man who was “lame from birth” reduced to begging for money every day of his life. 

Peter looked straight at him, as did John.

They saw him. The Spirit opened the eyes of their hearts. They saw not a beggar lame from birth. They saw an image bearer of the God of Heaven and Earth. They saw him through the eyes of the Spirit, and through their eyes peered the loving gaze of Jesus himself. Then this:

Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 

The Holy Spirit interrupted the pattern, breaking this man free from the broken transactional existence of a beggar and into the transcendent presence of the risen, ascended Jesus Messiah. Note, they did not say, “Look at God,” or “God bless you,” or anything of the sort. 

Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 

By the power of the Holy Spirit, the ascended Lord of Heaven and Earth was resident in Peter and John. In seeing them, the man was seeing Him. The usual shame of the beggar lifted. The guilt of the givers gone. The transactional moment was over. The transcendent possibility opened. 

So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

The stage is set. 

Still Day One. 

THE PRAYER

God our Father, who with your son Jesus Messiah, fills us with the Holy Spirit, thank you for the miracle and the mystery of the day of Pentecost. And thank you for today, and that it is only the day after. Open the eyes of my heart. Holy Spirit, break the cycle of my cynicism and interrupt the pattern of my mind. I want the mind of Jesus. I want to see this broken beggar as a sacred image bearer of God. I am weary of transactional living. Raise the level of my longing for transcendence. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Do you have a sense you are there with Peter and John and the man lame from birth? If not, ask the Spirit to transport you there. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Do I have the sense that I am present in this encounter of Peter and John with this lame beggar? Yes, I do in a strange sort of way. I believe that there is a thin veil that separates us from this physical world and the spiritual realm around us. I’m also aware that time does not exist in the spiritual realm. I believe that God occasionally pulls back that veil so that encounters such as this are made possible. It can be similar to how we can experience the “real presence “ of Christ when two or more are gathered in his name or when we partake of the Eucharist.

  2. Unlimited heart connection
    Overcomes all rejection.
    As bearers of God’s image,
    Any two human hearts
    Can connect.
    Let everyone you meet
    Have the attention
    Of your heart
    And be a part
    Of your inner circle
    At least
    For the few moments
    (Or however long)
    You walk along
    With each other.
    Really be there,
    Not just incidentally
    But heart-to-heart.
    Let Jesus set up
    So much love
    In your heart
    That it knocks down
    All the walls that divide.

  3. We are present with Peter and John and the man lame from birth when we are present with and respond such encounters, now, in the manner of Jesus THE Christ.
    I am not their yet.
    Praying to be filled.

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