3.2 HEALING OF A LAME BEGGAR (ACTS 3:1-11)
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter looked at him, with John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, amazed.
- The ninth hour of prayer refers to 3:00 pm in the afternoon. It was a time of the evening when sacrifice was offered in the temple by the priests and Jews used to gather for prayers in the temple.
- The lame man was at the temple gate which was known as the Beautiful. It may have been one of the entrances to the Court of the Gentiles or the gate between the Gentile Court and the Court of the Jewish Women.
- The people who were present were Peter and John, apostles, the lame man himself and those who carried him, people who were coming for prayers, the captain of the temple and temple authorities who came to see what was happening.
- The name of Jesus that was mentioned was to show that Peter was not using his own powers to heal this man but that of the authority of Jesus working through the Holy Spirit.
- The phrase that talks about the healing of the lame beggar in this incident refers to the idea that the man's feet and ankle bones gained strength and was able to walk.
- The priests and Sadducees were not happy about the teaching about the resurrection of Jesus.
3.4 Who were the Sadducees?
- These were a small group of rich and prominent people in the Jewish society.
- Many of these were priest and they occupied most of the seats in the Jewish council or the Sanhedrin.
- The High priests came from them.
- They were close to the Roman government so they worked hard to ensure that they kept the privileges and power they had.
- They accepted the first five books of the Old Testament which were known as the Pentateuch.
- They were against the law that was not recorded down (oral law). The oral law was popular with the Pharisees who usually added some connotations to the various laws.
- They did not believe in the existence of angels and demons or spirits.
- They disregarded life after death.
- After the destruction of the temple in AD 70 they ceased to exist because the centre of their belief was gone.
3.5 Peter’s sermon after the Healing of the lame beggar
When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, why are you surprised at this, and why do you stare at us? Do you think that it was by means of our own power or godliness that we made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has given divine glory to his Servant Jesus. But you handed him over to the authorities, and you rejected him in Pilate's presence, even after Pilate had decided to set him free. He was holy and good, but you rejected him, and instead you asked Pilate to do you the favor of turning loose a murderer. You killed the one, who leads to life, but God raised him from death—and we are witnesses to this. It was the power of his name that gave strength to this lame man. What you see and know was done by faith in his name; it was faith in Jesus that has made him well, as you can all see.
“And now, my friends, I know that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was due to your ignorance. God announced long ago through all the prophets that his Messiah had to suffer; and he made it come true in this way. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do, times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus, who is the Messiah he has already chosen for you.He must remain in heaven until the time comes for all things to be made new, as God announced through his holy prophets of long ago. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me,and he will be one of your own people. You are to obey everything that he tells you to do. Anyone who does not obey that prophet shall be separated from God's people and destroyed.’ And all the prophets who had a message, including Samuel and those who came after him also announced what has been happening these days. The promises of God through his prophets are for you, and you share in the covenant which God made with your ancestors. As he said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants I will bless all the people on earth.’ And so God chose his Servant and sent him to you first, to bless you by making every one of you turn away from your wicked ways.”
3.6 Commentary on Peter's sermon
- He declared that he and John were not the ones who had cured the beggar but the works of the man's faith and the Holy Spirit.
- He also accused the man of Jerusalem of killing and crucifying Jesus and said they had done that because little did not know what they were doing.
- He explained that Jesus was the servant of God.
- The prophets of the Old Testament had prophesied that Jesus was to come but they always used the word prophet. Furthermore the prophets did not clarify that the prophet who was the Messiah was going to suffer for the sins of the people. This meant that the people in Jerusalem had not anticipated the Messiah to be subjected to all the suffering, killing and rejection that Jesus the Messiah was subjected to.
- The early Christians however understood Jesus as the Messiah who had died for everyone's sins by becoming a sacrifice at the cross.
- Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies by coming to earth, suffering, dying, resurrecting and also ascending to his Father in Heaven as had been proclaimed.
- In verse 13-14 Peter referred to the trial of Jesus where Pilate made efforts to free Jesus but the Jews requested for the release of Barnabas instead.
- The concept of faith is also introduced here. It is not clear whether the healing was done through the faith of the lame beggar or the apostles.
- Faith is portrayed as the belief and conviction that something is going to happen; in this case there was faith that the man was to be healed in the name of Jesus.
3.7 Healing in our society
a. African Traditional Religion
- There are two different realms in which people receive healing today. The African Traditional way and Christian realm.
- Those who believe in this religion use a lot of traditional medicine. Such traditional medicines are extracted from nature.
- Examples of such medicines for healing range from tree roots, tree leaves, fruits, animals parts among other parts of nature.
- At the heart of all the traditional proceedings are the n'angas, sangomas and elders of the community who are well versed with all the medicines and concoctions that are prepared.
- Old women and man have knowledge about a plethora of diseases and they usually know what to prescribe for several sicknesses when someone is not feeling well.
- Just like the lame beggar had to possess faith, the traditional healers expect people to have faith in their healing methods for them to be successful.
- As a way of protection some Africa children are given strings to tie around their necks, wrist and waist. The traditional healer claims that the strings protect and heal those are affected by diseases.
- The salt is used to chase away the evil spirits and is part of most of the remedies given to patients.
- Patients are sometimes given water to use for bathing and also sprinkling around their houses as a way of casting away evil spirits.
- Prospects in traditional healing sometimes register with the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association. (ZINATHA).
- This is an organisation which aims at carrying out healing through the use of natural remedies. It is located in Harare.
The role they play
- advocacy for natural methods of healing
- they heal communicable diseases,
- community health care,
- they heal diarrhoeal diseases,
- they provide education on the use of medicine,
- disability and rehabilitation
- they deal with learning impairment,
- they provide maternal health,
- reproductive health
- sexual health
- traditional health care
- training of healers
NB: Whether or not the healings and miracles performed are fake or real is still subject to debate up to today.
- This realm claims to follow the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles.
- There is consistent use of prayer in church services.
- Some denominations also use some remedies like the anointed oil which is sold to the congregate that are in need of it.
- In some churches there is evidence of the use of water to sprinkle on the church members during prayers.
- Bottles of water are sometimes given to those who are not feeling well and the infected either drink or bath using the water.
- Pentecostal movement has also introduced the use of bangles which are put on the wrist. This is similar to the traditional way of tying a piece of string around the neck, wrist or the waist as a means of healing and protection against diseases and evil spirits.
- Healing is usually by touching the part of the body that is infected. This is a method that has raised so much concern for some of the churches as they deem some of the healings as sexual harassment especially in the case of sexual organs of the body being touched by a pastor or prophet who is of the opposite sex.
- There is a part of the society that feels that most of the healings are fake and various mediums of entertainment have tried to dissect many healing services and miracle performances to show that there is more to them than they are to the eye.