“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’” The healing of a beggar lame from birth is described in Acts. The account is truly an icon that enlarges our vision of the Resurrection. Saint Peter’s healing of this man transforms the Resurrection from an isolated event, concerning only the Lord Jesus, and shows us the power of the risen Christ ever at work in this world.
Christ gives us life and delivers us from the many tombs in which we find ourselves stuck. The lame man, with his lifelong disability, is eking out an existence in the living death of beggary, which parallels the affliction plaguing every descendant of Adam (vs. 2). Yes, we are born mortal and consigned to inevitable death.
Two apostles come across the lame man as he is begging (vs. 3). They do what the Church does for us, who are likewise crippled by sin and begging mercy from God. They awaken his heart to the reality of life in Christ, to rising and walking (vs. 6). The Church extends God’s power of the Resurrection to us and reveals that we can walk and leap before God, as He intends for us to do (vss. 4-8).
We know sin’s deformities all too well, and how unworthy we are to enter the courts of the Lord. Yet in the Church we experience the compassionate power of the risen Lord Jesus, who brings us to His footstool. Thus the apostles, by the power of the risen Christ, help this lame man to worship his Creator for the first time “within the Temple” (vs. 8).
Let us examine the conditions under which the Church extends the power of Resurrection into our lives. First and foremost, the Church goes about its regular cycle of prayer and worship. In this passage, the Church is represented by two apostles, Peter and John. They are not out on a mission looking for beggars or wounded outcasts, but simply going up to the Temple at the ninth hour to attend the final service of the day (vs. 1).
Healing, then, takes place within the ongoing routine of prayer. The power of the Resurrection is manifested in the context of the Church’s life and worship. Indeed, the ninth hour marks the time for “thanksgiving for what we have been given during the day and for our achievements; and confession of our failures, our voluntary or involuntary misdeeds, and those perhaps unknown to us, whether in word or deed or in the heart itself, asking God’s mercy for all through our prayers” (Saint Basil the Great, The Long Rules II, Q37).
The apostles are following their regular schedule of prayer when they are confronted by the lame man in need. “Ever blessing the Lord,” the apostles are preparing to “sing [Christ’s] Resurrection: for in that He endured the Cross for us He hath destroyed death by death” (Paschal hours). The power of the Resurrection occurs within the Church’s life of worship.
Further, we note how the apostles rely on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ when they reach the gate of the Temple. Here, God shows us that “the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:12-13).
Indeed, Peter and John place no faith in their own abilities. They trust wholly in Christ’s authority. They give what they know: the compassion of Jesus. They trust in Him that everyone should be healed and brought to the knowledge of the living God. They expect Christ, their Risen Lord, to act.
Full of faith, they take the lame man by the hand and lift him up (Acts 3:7). To all who come attentively to the Church, the Lord extends His hand for our healing.
Arise O God: help us and redeem us for Thy name’s sake! – Prayer Before the Gospel at Orthros