With a leap he stood upright and [began] to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
This verse is the tail end of an account of Peter and John going into the temple and a man being healed.
The man, it is written, had been lame from birth and had some friends who would carry him as far as the Beautiful Gate to the temple. They would leave him there to ask alms from the folks going into and out from the temple. The assistance his friend could offer only extended so far.
This man sat at the gate of the temple daily. He must have heard the prayers lifted up and the psalms being sung; the teaching of the scripture and the explanation of it. He must have heard the stories of healings performed by the prophets. He probably even heard some murmuring about Jesus since Jesus went to the temple often during His public ministry. But he remained at the cusp; at the edge of fellowship with God.
Peter and John noticed this man. This is noteworthy, because we regularly pass by people begging for money and whatnot and those people can become so much visual static — like billboards, only easier to ignore. This lame beggar was not visual static to Peter and John. He was a person who could not enter in to the presence of God without help; without healing. He needed to be made whole so he could fellowship with God and God’s people. In short, the beggar was iconic of every soul. None of us can enter into the presence of God without Help — viz., the Holy Spirit, called the Helper — and none of us is fit to enter in to God’s presence until we are made whole by Christ. We are all just as trapped at the cusp of God’s presence as this beggar was.
Peter heals the beggar. I will not get into the questions of how Peter knew that the beggar could be healed (hint: I think it was the Holy Spirit prompting him) or whether the beggar was healed by his own faith in God’s ability to heal (a position to which I hold) or by Peter and John’s faith. The net result is the same: the beggar is healed.
This morning’s verse is the aftermath of all that. Now healed, the beggar goes into the temple with Peter and John. He does not run out and find a job. He does not go show his family and friends that he has been miraculously made able to walk. He goes right where his heart longed to go: Into the presence of God and fellowship. And he did not just enter in, he entered walking and leaping and praising God. This, to me, hearkens back to King David and his enthusiasm for the Ark of the Covenant being brought into Jerusalem. David was ecstatic about God’s presence coming back among His people. This beggar was ecstatic about finally being able to enter into the presence of God. Very similar motivations for their enthusiasm.
On to the application: Am I excited about being able to enter in to the presence of God? I am given the privilege of prayer; the ability to enter in to the presence of my Maker and talk with Him as a friend and child. This should excite me. This should cause my heart to overflow with enthusiasm for what is about to happen. Instead, I find that it sometimes feels cumbersome. I do not exult into the presence of God, leaping and praising as I enter. Rather, I slog into His presence as if discharging an unpleasant duty. The psalmist wrote that he would enter God’s gates with thanksgiving in his heart and enter God’s courts with praise. The beggar in this morning’s verse does precisely that. Let me take a lesson from this beggar and get my eyes where they belong: on the absolute privilege it is to be able to speak to God at all and on the condescension of a God Who bends so low as to hear me. Let me enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Let me enter His presence walking and leaping and praising. He deserves nothing less.