God’s Word for You
Acts 3:8-10 he went into the temple walking and leaping and praising God
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, September 11, 2019
8 He jumped up and stood and began to walk around, and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
The miracle happened instantly. Even with all our modern medicine, bones take time to heal; weeks at the very least. This man had never had the use of his legs, and now he was jumping, leaping, standing and walking without any trouble.
The man had two reactions to this miracle. He started praising God, and he went into the temple. The second reaction is something we shouldn’t overlook. A crippled man could not worship in the temple; he was forbidden from going in. This was not part of the law of Moses. Priests could not be crippled (Leviticus 21:17-20), but that rule did not necessarily apply to the lame. But in David’s time, there was an incident that changed this. When David and his army marched on the city of the Jebusites, they taunted him by saying “Even the blind and lame can ward you off” (2 Samuel 5:6). After David captured the city, which became known as Jerusalem, the words “The blind and the lame will not enter the palace” (vs. 8). This seems to have been used as a reason, perhaps in concert with the (misapplied) passage from Leviticus 21, which did not allow crippled men (and others) from entering into the temple. Later on, David permitted the lame Mephibosheth into the palace (2 Samuel 9:13), as if David was trying to redress the words he had spoken so rashly. But the Jews did not revoke the (new?) tradition.
This, I hope, explains the crippled man’s delight in being able to enter into the temple’s inner court. There he could see what was happening inside. Professor John C. Lawrenz (who has served as a professor of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Michigan Lutheran Seminary, and Martin Luther College as well as founding our seminary in Hong Kong) is fond of pointing out that a visitor to the tabernacle or the temple would see three things in particular that would remain in his mind: the Holy Place where God made his dwelling among the people (Exodus 25:8), the bronze basin where the priests performed their many baths (baptisms) for ceremonial cleanness (Exodus 30:18-21), and the altar where the flesh of the offerings was burned and where the blood of the offerings was sprinkled (Exodus 21:1-2, 29:12-18).
These things were shadows of what was coming, as the Holy Spirit says: “It was a copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (Hebrews 8:5). What did the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies serve as a shadow for? The Lord Jesus Christ, who made his dwelling among his people in the flesh. In fact, when John says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), the word for “made his dwelling” is skenóō (σκηνόω), “pitched his tent.”
And what about the other things? The bronze basin where the priests washed was the shadow of baptism, just as circumcision was another kind of shadow of baptism (Colossians 2:11-12). The altar where the flesh and the blood were offered was a shadow of the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus said, “This is my body given for you… This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20).
We call these sacraments the Means of Grace, the gospel in word and sacrament, where God’s grace comes to men and women and places faith into our hearts. The cripple at the Beautiful Gate now had a truly beautiful gate into God’s kingdom. He was able to praise God for his healing, which took place only because of the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for money at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The man who had been crippled did not need any special ritual to enter the temple. He had not been ceremonially unclean, he had been crippled. A leper who had been healed would have to be approved by a priest (Leviticus 13:1-6), but this man could simply enter the temple right away. Some of the opposition Jesus had faced when he healed people was removed here because of this difference.
The miracle was understood right away. There could be no argument about the Apostles breaking the Sabbath (it must have been some other day of the week), but the Sanhedrin would still find a way to be unhappy about it. Yet wasn’t this the very thing, or the very sort of thing, that Isaiah had prophesied? “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder!” (Isaiah 29:13-14).
What was most important was that the man praised God, giving credit for what had happened through the apostles. He was delighted to be able to go into the temple and not just sit at the gate. He was the embodiment of David’s song of ascents: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1).
What would you do if a physical or family problem kept you away from the house of God for more than forty years? This man had no computer, no smartphone, no TV, no radio. He had no devotion book at home. He didn’t own a Bible. How did he connect with the Lord? No wonder he ran, jumped, and leaped his way into the temple the moment he was able. What would you have done?
Pastor Timothy Smith
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