And Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, which is the ninth hour; and a certain man who was lame from his mother’s womb was being carried, whom they placed every day at the gate of the temple called Beautiful, to ask alms of those who were going into the temple…
- Acts 3:1-2 (JND)
We’re going through the book of Acts on Sundays in adult class, and while looking at this portion of the book, it occurred to me that Jesus never healed this man during His earthly ministry.
It says here that the lame man was laid daily at the temple to beg money from those going in to worship. This must have been going on a for long time, because Acts 4:22 says he was over 40 years old. Jesus must have passed by him many times, and the man almost certainly knew who Jesus was. Perhaps he had hoped to be healed but could never work up the courage to ask. Then, when Jesus was crucified, his hopes died with Him.
There are some similarities and dissimilarities between this man and the blind man in John 9, not least of which is that both were born in their condition.
When the disciples first saw the man born blind, they asked Jesus “Who sinned, him or his parents, that he should be born this way?” Jesus responded, “Neither has this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be manifested in him.” Now when Peter and John see the lame man, there is no question of “who sinned”, but just an opportunity for the works of God to be revealed and Jesus to be glorified.
Another good similarity is that both healed men had a true conversion experience. So many times people came to Jesus to be healed, and once they got what they wanted, they went their merry way (i.e. Luke 17:17-18). But it is evident that both the blind man and the lame man had serious changes of heart. The blind man was excommunicated from the synagogue for his testimony of Jesus, and the lame man was willingly present as witness (and encouragement) for Peter and John when they were testifying before the Jewish rulers (Acts 4:14).
One more difference is that the blind man was a nobody. It was unclear to the people after he was healed that he had been blind (John 9:8-9). The Pharisees had to consult his parents (John 9:18). But everybody knew the lame man. He was at the temple every day for years. This was a miracle that nobody could deny (Acts 4:16)
Perhaps Jesus didn’t heal the lame man, so that He could get the greater glory when Peter and John healed him?
Perhaps God does not answer our prayers right away so that He can get the greater glory later on?