One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled 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. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him (Acts 3: 1-10 NIV).
THE NINTH HOUR, THE HOUR OF PRAYER
The first thing that arrests my attention when I examine this passage is that Peter and John were going to the temple at the “time [or hour] of prayer.” The NIV version indicates that the hour of prayer was three in the afternoon. The NASB calls it “the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.” The ninth hour of prayer is 3:00 p.m. I find the number nine interesting. Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke as well as the Book of Acts, records that Jesus died on the cross at the ninth hour and “the veil of the temple was torn in two” (Luke 23: 44-47, NASB).
Numbers are not “magical” or “lucky,” but some stand out in scripture. For example, the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22 add up to nine. The gifts of the Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12: 4-10 also add up to nine.
CRIPPLED FROM BIRTH
Verse 2 of Acts 23 states that the man was “crippled from birth” and had to be “carried to the temple gate” every day to beg for money. When he asked Peter and John for money, Peter replied, “Silver and gold have I none” (KJV) and instructed him to “walk in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Not only did the man walk but went into the temple courts and started jumping and praising God! What a testimony! The miracle gave Peter the opportunity share the gospel with the onlookers. According to Acts 3: 11, “And when he [the man who was healed] took hold of Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them on the portico called Solomon’s” (One New Man Bible). Peter preached the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah and urged the people to repent and return to God (see Acts 3: 11-26). This miracle–followed by Peter’s presentation of the Gospel–brought at least 5000 to a saving knowledge of the Messiah.
DEMONSTRATE THE GOSPEL
Miracles are an effective way (but not the only way) to demonstrate the Gospel. Notice that the miracle in Acts 3 occurred shortly after the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Did you know that the Great Commission to take the gospel to the world includes signs and wonders, casting out demons, and laying hands on the sick? And he said, “Go in the world and preach the gospel unto all creation (Mark 16: 15). These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16: 17-18, NASB).
[Regarding the reference to picking up serpents and drinking deadly poison, Jesus is not instructing his disciples to pick up snakes, but instead appears to quoting Psalm 91: 13, which speaks of God’s divine protection. For example, the apostle Paul is unharmed when he picks up sticks to make a fire and finds a viper attached to his arm (Acts 28: 3-6).]
Jesus said to his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8, NIV). The Holy Spirit is our guide when it comes to evangelism. One plants a seed, another waters it, but God causes it to grow (I Corinthians 3: 6-7).