July 28, 2020 – The Beautiful Gate

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, ‘Look at us!’ And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene — walk!’ And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” (Acts 3:1-10)

Would you walk with me for a moment? I would like us to follow Peter and John and look for a moment at what happened here in Acts chapter three. Let me point out to you the time of day at which this engagement took place. Peter and John were going to the temple at the ninth hour, “the hour of prayer.” In Daniel chapter six, Scripture tells us how, in spite of a royal law, “continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.” In Psalm 55, we read, “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.” In Acts 10:30, Cornelius recounts to Peter,.“Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.’”

With these few examples in mind, you can see that the third, sixth, and ninth hours were hours of prayer. You may also remember that our Savior and King cried out at the ninth hour! Here is Matthew’s account: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?’ that is, ‘MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?’” I hope that by now, you are starting to see something beautiful in our walk.

When Peter and John went to the temple, they went during one of the hours of prayer. They went at the same time of day when, not that long ago, the Lord Jesus Christ cried out from the Cross the first verse of Psalm 22. When the lame man looked at the apostles, he asks for alms. Now, the word for “alms” is derived from the word for “mercy.” It is not a stretch at all to say that the man was asking for a gift of mercy. That is, according to the word used, what alms really are. They are gifts of mercy. Are you seeing the beauty of the moment? Can you see the absolutely gorgeous blessing that God is giving us in this account? At the hour of prayer, a lame man was outside the temple at the Beautiful Gate. His prayer for mercy was answered when Peter said to him, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene — walk!” Peter took the man’s hand and raised him up. “With a leap he stood upright and began to walk.” Look at what happened next. The man entered the temple with them. Do you know which gate they used? They used the Beautiful Gate. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) This moment was more than a healing. It was a public proclamation and demonstration of the gift of God that is given through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostles were instruments used by God to answer a prayer at the ninth hour. Christ is the answer of that prayer. Jesus demonstrated this when he cried out Psalm 22. (You should read that Psalm in its entirety to see the power of this Psalm at Calvary!) Christ is the door. He is the gate. He is the Beautiful Gate. This is why Paul once wrote, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

God has given to his people the greatest gift. He has given his Son. He has given us not merely a possible way of coming into his presence. He has given us the only Way. He has given us the Beautiful Way. I pray that our walk today might remind you that your prayers are heard because Jesus gave his life. He gave his life for those who believe. He took his life up again for those who believe. He gave himself and he answers our prayers so that we might have the grace to show others to the Beautiful Gate. He might even give us the opportunity to walk with them through that Gate. What if we prayed that he would do such things?

Speaking of walking, thank you for walking with me today. May the Lord give you everything you need to follow in His steps.

Soli Deo Gloria.