Recognition

Acts 3:10 “And they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms.”

Observation: The setting is the gate called Beautiful. Peter and John were heading to morning prayers when they came upon a beggar who asked alms of them. In response, Peter said he had no money, but he would give what he had: “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk.” To the crowd’s amazement, the beggar responded by leaping to his feet, ankles suddenly strengthened, and accompanying the disciples into the temple “leaping and praising God.” (v. 8). And then this: they took note of him as being the one who used to beg at the temple gate.

Application: Then, as now, there are two kinds of beggars. First are those on a journey when their camel breaks down and they find themselves without money for food or housing while the local vet dealership makes needed repairs. These are temporary beggars, reduced by unanticipated loss to seeking help to continue on their journey to Nebraska.

But there is another kind of beggar…one who has been at it a while. He has no occupation other than begging. Always on the same corner with a well-worn cardboard sign, his fixture has become permanent on the landscape. This is the kind of beggar Peter and John encountered: lame from birth, he has no other occupation. 

The disciples’ generosity and boldness are striking. They take note of him and not only pray but then raise him up by his right hand; as they did so, the miracle happened (v. 7), profound and visible to all.

But what convicts my heart is that the regulars in the crowd recognized him as being the former beggar. We aren’t told that anyone actually knew him, but they recognized him. And I wonder…would I have registered recognition? When I see a beggar do I engage him or her in any meaningful way, or do I roll up the window and turn busily toward the important task of fiddling with the radio? I wonder how many times I might pass the same poor soul before I, like the crowd at the Beautiful Gate, began to truly realize that this disheveled, dirty man, beloved of the Father just as I am, is an actual person, someone with a real name, with a past made up of who-knows-what painful unfulfilled expectations…a real person with hopes and dreams now diminished by circumstances, but a child of God none-the-less.

How willing am I to allow such a scene to intrude upon my own heart to the point that I give what I have, at the very least offering my best by praying, and perhaps giving financially or in some other way engaging in meaningful connection with a brother or sister for whom the Lord died? When did I last act so as to cause a hurting one to declare, as did Hagar, that “You are the God who sees me!” (Gen. 16:13)?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive my smugness that would allow me to pass in disdain by one such as these, refusing even a prayer in their behalf. Break my heart, Lord, by Your view of the poor whether on my walking path or on the other side of the world. Tap my wealth in their behalf, whether of my wallet or of my heart, and cause generosity to spring forth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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