Why Now and Not Then?

i am currently writing the final book in the series Lessons Learned in the Wilderness. The book, entitled Until He Returns, focuses on the truths that God teaches us through the early church as recorded in the Book of Acts. In the third chapter of Acts we come across the man who was born lame. Each day his friends or family brought him to the Beautiful gate so he could beg from those who were entering the Temple. That had been taking place for a long time – so it got me to thinking…

Two months earlier, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and was greeted by the multitude who was praising Him with shouts of “Hosanna!” Jesus’ journey ended at the Temple where He dismounted. He then entered the Outer Court and quietly walked around, looking, but not saying anything. He then made His way through the Beautiful Gate into the hall of prayer. There were a number of people begging at the gate. Some were lame. Some were blind. The lame man was more than likely one of them. Each had been brought by family members or friends in the hopes that their friend or loved one would receive charity – or possibly a miracle of healing. Jesus looked on the people with compassion. He didn’t ignore them, but on that day He didn’t stop to heal them. He continued on into the Temple and spent time in prayer. He and His disciples then quietly left.

Jesus returned the next day which was Monday. There was no large crowd or procession that day. But as He entered the Temple this time, He overturned the merchants’ tables and stalls and drove them out into the Stoa (the area designated for merchants outside the Temple). A great commotion ensued and the lame man, together with the others who were begging by the Beautiful Gate, very possibly feared that they would be overrun by the people as they fled the Temple. Gratefully no one was harmed, but it caused the beggars to be wary in the days ahead.

The following day was Tuesday. Jesus again returned. This time, He remained in the Court of the Women for the entire day. A crowd continuously gathered around Him as He taught. Some of those who normally sat by the Beautiful Gate were brought to Jesus by family or friends, and He healed them! The lame man and others who remained at the Gate mourned the fact that they had no one to help them make their way to Jesus. That night the lame man and others made arrangements with their families or friends to bring them to Jesus when He returned to the Temple the next day.

On Wednesday, the lame man arrived at the Temple with great anticipation! His friends placed him in the exact spot where Jesus had healed the day before. The lame man could not contain his excitement. He knew that today he would be healed. The day that he had no longer even allowed himself to dream about had arrived! But Jesus didn’t return that day. However, the lame man did not lose hope. He was certain that Jesus would return the next day. But Jesus didn’t return to the Temple on Thursday either. Then on Friday, the lame man learned that the religious leaders had Jesus crucified. The lame man was devastated. Jesus had been his hope! But now He was gone! 

The following Monday there was talk at the Temple that Jesus had risen from the dead. The religious leaders all said that was a lie. They said that His disciples had moved His body to make people think He was alive. But others, in hushed tones, talked about how Jesus had said He would rise from the dead after three days. But Jesus never returned to the Temple and the lame man’s hope had been crucified with Jesus.

Seven weeks had now passed, and suddenly there was another commotion in Jerusalem. A sound like a roaring wind had been heard coming from an upper room in the heart of the city. Soon those who had been followers of Jesus began to praise God in languages other than their own, and all the visitors were able to hear the praise in their own language. Several of Jesus’ disciples gathered a crowd on the southern steps leading into the Temple and began to preach that Jesus was alive. And as they taught from the Scriptures, three thousand people became believers and were baptized. In the days that followed, growing numbers of these disciples of Jesus came to the Temple to pray.

And now on this day, Peter and John arrived at the Temple to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, they encountered the lame man. As Peter and John passed by him, he asked them for money. But he asked everyone for money – some would give, and others would look the other way.

Peter and John stopped, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us!” The lame man turned and looked at them eagerly. Peter said to him, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you.” The man’s heart sank. “But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” The lame man didn’t really know who these two were, but he knew who Jesus was! And he knew Jesus had healed the lame! Peter reached out and took the man’s right hand, and immediately he jumped up! He stood, he walked, he leapt and he praised God! He knew he had been healed by Jesus! Jesus had been his hope. Jesus was his hope! Jesus had healed him! The time had come!

Peter and John thought back to a conversation they had once had with Jesus. One of the disciples had asked Him, “why was this man born blind?” (John 9:2 NLT) Jesus had replied, “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:3 NLT) The same was true of this man who was born lame. But he had not been born lame so that others would see the power of God displayed through Jesus; he had been born lame that the people would see that same power of God displayed through the followers of Jesus! Everyone knew who this man was. Everyone knew he had been born lame. Everyone knew that he had just been healed. Everyone rushed to see the testimony of the power of God. Through the healing of this lame man many more believed in Jesus and that early church grew even more.

The Father’s timing is perfect. He had ordered the “steps” of the lame man from before the beginning of time. Jesus could have easily healed him on one of His visits to the Temple – but that wasn’t the Father’s plan. It certainly didn’t mean that Jesus was unable. It meant the Father had a different plan!

The Father’s timing is still perfect! “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him” (Psalm 37:23 NIV).”We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT). He will accomplish His purpose in and through our lives in the way – and according to the timing – that brings Him the greatest glory. The day that the lame man stood and walked, he no longer cared why Jesus had not healed him before. All he knew now was that he could walk. Whatever you are awaiting from God – trust Him! You are not out of His sight. Jesus sees you, just like He saw the lame man in the Temple. Continue to “commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act” (Psalm 37:5 ESV). He knows the “now” and He will bring it about in His perfect timing. 

Excerpt from Until He Returns