One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
How I love my routine. It gives me a great sense of comfort and familiarity which makes it much easier for me to function in today’s very confusing world. It makes me feel safe. The last thing I ever want is for anything to be different and for something unfamiliar to come my way. I’m really not good with change. Which is probably why I always feel such sympathy for the lame man in this passage. He likes his routine too, and the last thing either he or the people who know and help him want is for that routine to be shattered.
But shattered is exactly what that routine is going to be. Because Peter and John aren’t interested in responding to the lame man in the way he expects them to. Much like Jesus’ responses to the people He met during His earthly life, the two disciples answer a question which hasn’t even been thought of, let alone asked. They command him to walk. How ridiculous! The lame man has never walked – he doesn’t even know how. What kind of demand is this? They must be insane. There is absolutely no way that the lame man can do this, or even try. Is there?
Still, he does. In the middle of the busy temple with all its comings and goings and constant distractions, the lame man just for that moment focuses all his attention on the stranger who is asking the impossible, casts aside his expectations, accepts the help he’s offered and not only stands up, but actually jumps. I think it must be the bravest act the lame man has ever done – and it changes him forever.
God of surprises, help us not to be so caught up in our own routines and expectations that we do not recognise or respond to You. Help us to fix our attention on You and to jump with enthusiasm and joy into Your constant goodness. Amen.