Act3 and 2Samuel 9 are two stories about people who are lame. One story is from the New Testament, and one from the Old Testament. They are very different stories, but both stories have something in common. A person who was looked down upon was raised up.
In the story of Mephibosheth (Meh-fib-o-sheth is how I pronounce it) King David is looking for any survivor of King Saul’s household so that he can honor them with the blessing of God. It turns out that the only one left other than a few servants is his friend Jonathon’s son, Mephibosheth. You may recall that Jonathon was David’s best friend, and the son of King Saul. So you can imagine how happy David must have been when finding that his friend’s son was the one who had survived from King Saul’s household. Mephibosheth is different from the lame beggar in Acts 3 in that his lameness came from an accident. At the time that Mephibosheth was 5 years old and his Grandfather King Saul, and his father, Jonathon were slain – well, his nurse grabbed him and went to run away with him to save his life. Unfortunately, we are told that Mephibosheth fell and was lame from then onward for the rest of his life. Now, most of us would probably decide that when he fell he broke his foot or leg and it wasn’t set properly and healed up wrong. At least that is what I am getting from this story. Anyway, to sum up what happened here, King David, was very happy that Mephibosheth was alive, and decided to restore to him all of King Saul’s lands, servants, etc. He also declared that Mephibosheth would eat regularly at the King’s table. In other words, he bestowed a great honor and wealth on Mephibosheth and also made it so that he could enjoy the company of his friend’s son on a regular basis. You can be sure that Mephibosheth was looked down upon prior to that because he was King Saul’s grandson, and also because of his lameness. So King David, although he could not heal the lame, physically, (as Peter and John were able to do through the gift of the Holy Spirit)was able to heal the heart of Mephibosheth through his kindness and showing love toward him.
Now in the story in Acts Chapter 3 We see an actual physical healing of a man who had been lame from birth. He was so lame, that he had to be carried from place to place. It tells us that he was carried by people every day to the temple gate called Beautiful so that he could beg from those going into the temple courts. Now there are a lot of gates into the city during Jesus’ time and they are all named. The Beautiful Gate is the gate that is in front of the Temple…it leads to God’s house. So this lame beggar had a pretty good spot for begging…after all, wouldn’t people be the most generous when they are going in to stand and worship God? He also apparently had some family or friends who made sure he got to that place every day to do the work of begging for money so that he could eat.
What I find fascinating about this story is that the beggar had apparently asked Peter and John for money, but then he must have discounted them right away as being unable to give him anything. We know that Jesus told his Disciples to not worry about how they were dressed, (Luke 12), and not to act grandly with self importance, but to be humble. (Matthew 6) So we can, probably, safely believe that neither Peter nor John were richly dressed. The reason I think this is that we read in verse 4 that Peter and John both looked straight at the beggar and then Peter tells the beggar “Look at us!” This causes the beggar to look back at them, with expectation of receiving money. In actual fact, it seems that Peter and John showed the beggar more respect than he gave them.
This is rather peculiar, as in our world today the person who is shown the least respect is the person who is homeless, who is reduced to begging in order to survive. People tend, generally, to look past them, or through them, anything, but making eye contact with them. Usually they are ignored by the larger percentage of those who are going by them. I am wondering when reading this story if it was the same in the days of Jesus.
We know that it wasn’t this way with Peter and John, but they were Disciples of Jesus. God had provision in the old testament for widows and orphans, the poor and the helpless. Below are a couple of verses showing the attitude that God wanted his people to have toward the poor.
Proverbs 22:9 The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.
Daniel 4:27 (ESV) “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed [poor], that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
So let’s go back to the story…here is this man looking at these two men whom it was obvious he expected to receive nothing from to start with and now he has an expectation from them…because of their attitude…imagine how he felt at Peter’s next words: Peter says, while looking this guy straight in the eyes…I don’t have any silver or gold, but I will give you what I do have. Now this beggar was probably expecting Peter and John to give him a piece of bread or something like that, right? I mean, that is what I would be expecting if I were him. Instead, Peter reaches down and takes this beggar by the hand and helps him up, instantly this man’s feet and ankles (which had never known how to hold weight in an entire lifetime) were strengthened and he was able to stand. He was not only able to stand, but the man was suddenly able to dance and jump around. He went in to worship God, walking, jumping and praising God with all his heart! What a sight that must have been. How glad this man was at this very unexpected healing in his life. I am thinking that the Beautiful gate had never been a place more beautiful to him than right then. Peter and John look at all the astonished people and ask them why they are so surprised…then go on to use this healing as a way to glorify God and talk about who Jesus really was and what his purpose was in walking the earth. They turned this monumental occasion in the man’s life into an opportunity to glorify God and share who God is with their fellow Jews.
They literally did the same thing that Jesus did as he was illustrating who God was…they met the needs of the people first, in order to show the love of God, then they told them clearly who God was and how much he loved them. How much he wanted them to have a restored relationship with him.
Note: I know that we see a lot of people who have signs and some of them may not actually need the help they claim to need, but that is between them and God, not between us and them. We need to remember that and not let it keep us from following God’s leading when it comes to helping people in need.
Read Acts 3
1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter Speaks to the Onlookers
11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’
24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
Read 2 Samuel 9 (NIV)
David and Mephibosheth
9 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“At your service,” he replied.
3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
4 “Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“At your service,” he replied.
7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.