He [a lame man] asked them to give him some money. . . . The man stared at them, expecting to get something from them. “I haven’t got any silver or gold,” Peter said, “but I’ll give you what I have got. In the name of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk!” (3:3-6)
We have all heard it a thousand times: “Hey man, can you spare a little change?” More often these days I get an elaborate story involving a broken down truck several miles away and how there is a need for money to “fix my truck.”
Much ink has been spilled on the topic of helping the needy. There are many different perspectives on whether to help or how best to help. There is no need to rehearse the arguments here.
This is what struck me in this chapter instead:
You are the children of the prophets, the children of the covenant with God established with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, “In your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (3:25)
We are the “children of the prophets” who spoke about caring for the needy almost as much as they did singular devotion to God. We have received a legacy from Abraham that includes a calling to give to or “bless” the nations. Well, I know, actually this was talking about the Jews. But we have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel, haven’t we (Romans 11:16-21)? Spiritually, we are talking about our family history too, right? So, giving is a part of our spiritual heritage.
And give to this lame man is exactly what Peter did. However, Peter did not give the man what he was asking for. Instead of getting what he requested, this man receives what he needs. Money is a small blessing compared to healing and wholeness. Maybe he was so demoralized by his ailments that he had given up hope for anything more than pity. Maybe it was just easier to beg for denarii. Regardless, in line with his heritage, Peter gave.
Peter also gave in such a way that God received the credit. Peter and John were evidently receiving honor for the miracle (3:12). But they deflected the attention from themselves back to the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob — the God of our ancestors” (3:13). They gave to the needy and God received the glory.