Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.
The Jews measured a day from 6 am to 6pm and set aside three special times of prayer during this period – 9 am (the third hour); 12pm (the sixth hour) and 3pm (the ninth hour). They knew that any prayer was valid whenever and wherever it was prayed, but believed that prayers offered in the temple courts were even more effective.
Peter and John stuck to the traditions they had known all their lives. They did not seem to see any problem in combining the old way with their new Christian beliefs. It is to be noted that they were not going to the temple to participate in any sacrifice (this had been made obsolete by the death of Christ) but for the afternoon time of prayer. They may well have seen this as an opportunity to spread the Gospel when there would be many others praying there.
The gate Beautiful had two doors made of brass and was over 22 metres high. It was, according to the Jewish historian, Josephus, more beautiful than other gates which were covered in gold or silver.
Many beggars would sit at the gates of the temple as they recognised that when people were on their way to pray they were more likely to be generous. The man in question was just asking to be supported financially to help him live. He had no other expectations. This was the way life was for him and the alms he received meant he could, at least, eat. He was probably delighted that Peter and John actually looked at him, offering him the dignity of being a person, rather than glancing or looking away completely as most people would. He returned their look, expecting them to give him something. He was hopeful they would be generous, so his heart must have dropped when Peter said he had no money.
Yet Peter had more than money to give. Peter did not want to sustain the man in his current lifestyle but to open the way for him to dance and praise God, a gift that would have been beyond the man’s wildest dreams. Peter himself was given the gift of faith by Jesus as he stretched out his right hand in fellowship to the lame man. He believed Jesus would heal at that precise moment, and he was proved right as strength poured into the man’s feet and ankle-bones (two terms that are only used in Scripture by Doctor Luke).
The man began walking, dancing around and praising God. It is to be supposed he did not do this quietly. Suddenly he was able to move as other people could. He had been lame ‘since birth’ so this was a brand new experience for him. He would have recognised men who had walked past him throughout his life, some of whom had supported him, others of whom had ignored him. He would have wanted everyone to witness the miracle and to hear how it happened. People gathered around him to see what all the noise was about and Peter took advantage of the situation to share the Gospel as Luke tells us he did.
What gift, reward or award have you received in your life that exceeded all your
expectations? Briefly share the story and how it made you feel. What was your reaction?
- How would you describe your life at this time in a couple of words? Do you feel you may be in a rut, or is life exciting? What makes you answer in this way?
- Consider for a moment the areas of brokenness, pain or disease in your life. Do you want to be healed? Share briefly your thoughts and feelings about these things.
- What dreams do you have being healed of these areas of brokenness, pain or disease? What role does God play in these dreams?
- How do you feel about God disrupting your day to day life to bring about the fulfillment of your dreams? Are you prepared for such disruption? Could it be that there is some reluctance on your part which is holding back the fulfillment of your dreams?
- How often do you really look at someone? How often has someone really looked at you? What do these moments of connection mean? How aware are you of people’s pain – and how aware are they of your own pain? Do you hide your pain? Why/why not?
- Peter reached out in faith and a man was healed. How do you feel about reaching out in faith in the Name of Jesus in response to another’s pain? Have you done so? What happened? How did you feel?
- How can you encourage one another to act in faith in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth
- Jesus heals – others and you. How do you feel about Jesus using you as a channel of His healing power to those around you?
- How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session.
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.
Ask God to show you where you can reach out to others in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth during the coming days. Ask Him too for the courage and faith you need if you are unsure about any situation that arises.
Barclay, William. The Daily Bible Study: The Acts of the Apostles. The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh. 1987 https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/acts-3/