Online Bible Commentary
The Better Gift
Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 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." 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (NKJV)
The disciples continued to attend Jewish worship in the temple even after the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus in A. D. 30 or 31. In fact, this practice continued until the late A.D. 60’s.
During this time Christianity, called “The Way”, was considered to be a sect of Judaism. There was not a total split between the two until the first Jewish revolt against Rome, almost forty years after the birth of Christianity.
In this passage, Peter and John were going to the temple for prayer at about 3:00 p.m. (v. 1). They encountered a man who was lame from birth at the temple gate named “Beautiful” (V. 2a). The man was begging those who entered the temple for “alms”, money or food given to the poor (v. 2b).
The lame man asked Peter and John for alms and Peter called for the man to give them his attention (vv. 3-4). The lame man did so, hoping for alms (v. 5). Peter then told the lame man that he did not have money, but that he would give him what he did have (v. 6a). Peter proclaimed “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (v. 6b).
Peter helped the man up and his feet and ankles were instantly, divinely, healed (v. 7). The man was ecstatic as he entered the temple with Peter and John, “walking, leaping, and praising God” (v. 8).
The man was noticed by the temple goers and recognized as the lame man who always was begging at the Beautiful Gate (v. 9-10a). “They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (v. 10b).
So the lame man was hoping for alms, but Peter gave him the better gift. He gave him the gift of Jesus.
The man would have spent the money or eaten the food and the benefits would have quickly been gone. He would be sustained physically, and for only a short time at that.
The gift of Jesus was so much more. Yes, the man was healed physically and could live a better quality of life. But even that was not the better gift.
The man now had faith in Jesus Christ. He now had the living water that keeps on giving. He had a new purpose for his life, a purpose that far exceeds any other purpose.
When we tell others about Jesus, and they believe, their lives are changed, forever. They now have the gift of eternal life that far exceeds anything of this life. The gift of Jesus is the better gift.