Have you ever had your relationship with God interrupted by people? How did you respond?
In Acts chapter 3, Luke depicts two of the key leaders of the early church headed to the temple ‘at the time of prayer.’ Remember there was no ‘church’ building, these followers of Christ were still meeting together in their homes and in the temple. Wasn’t God’s house designed to be ‘a house of prayer for all nations?’ Yes, Isaiah, as God’s prophetic spokesman had spoken those words on God’s behalf in Isaiah 56:7. Having just experienced the empowerment of the Spirit of God to speak the wonders of God in a diversity of known languages, (Acts 2) perhaps they were seeking God’s help to further the process.
Certainly, they were continuing to cultivate their relationship with God and with His Son, their Messiah, Jesus Christ. But God had a planned interruption that afternoon that would trigger astonishment, wonder and persecution.
“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon.”
Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going to the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. (Acts 3:1-5)
Here, at the Beautiful gate, as people were about to enter to worship and pray, sat a man whose crippled body had left him utterly dependent on others. Perhaps family and friends carried him every permissible day (probably not the Sabbath), for him to receive alms from generous-hearted worshippers.
This man spotted these two Christian leaders. His eyesight was excellent and so I’m sure he raised his voice to gain their attention. I doubt he knew who they were, probably assuming they were just ‘faithful followers’ of the LORD God whose mercy they all needed.
The crippled man received attention, the direct focus of these two prominent leaders. Peter, a ‘take charge’ kind of leader directed the man to look–to fasten his gaze distinctly upon them. Peter had something to say, and what he was about to give was not from his own resources but from the bountiful generosity of his Master, who had left them to bear witness to who He was.
Let’s pause there for today. How do we respond to interruptions? I think of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where religious leaders avoided contact with an obviously needy man for fear of becoming unclean. Peter and John were cut from a new cloth. They were clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and had witnessed the compassionate touch of the Lord on many occasions. Peter himself had been shown mercy, had he not, as Jesus restored him so directly, yet compassionately, after his own three-fold denial?
We may only share what we’ve experienced. You can’t introduce others to a God you do not know. May today be a day where God directs our schedule, where we respond with grace to the planned interruptions of people God intends for us to serve.
“Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord, to Thee…. Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love….” Yes, Lord, yes, yes, yes. Amen!