Tony Evans - Lame Men Walking
We're told about a lame man. The description of the man is given in verse 2. We're told a number of things about this man. First of all, we are told that he is lame. He's a cripple, but we're told he was a cripple from his mother's womb, so ever since he was born he has been crippled. That means he was not able to stand on his own two feet, and it's hard to man up if you can't even stand up. He couldn't stand on his own two feet, and according to chapter 4 verse 22, the man is 40 years old, so for half of a lifetime, this man was not able to stand up on his own. We're told a second thing about this man. We're told that his whole life depended upon what other folk did for him, 'cause it says every day he was carried by other folk to beg.
See, you know you're lame when everybody else has gotta take care of you, when everybody else has gotta bring you to where you need to go, because you're not able to get there on your own. And what's interesting about verse 2 is he was at the church house every day. It says he went to the gate called Beautiful that was at the temple, and you can be at the church house every single day and still wind up to be a lame man, not able to stand up on your own two feet, 'cause even though he was at church, nothing had changed in his life.
We are living in a day when far too many men are lame. They may not be physically lame, they may be able to physically stand up, but that's not the only kinda lameness. There is mental lameness, where the man is not able to have the cognitive capacity to take on his manly responsibility. There is social lameness, where men are expecting the government to do what God has called them to do. There is spiritual lameness, where the woman has gotta lead the devotions, has gotta pray with the kids 'cause he's too lame to take the time to be the spiritual head of his home.
See, lameness can come in all shapes and sizes, but it all bears the same characteristic, and that is somebody else has gotta do for you what you will not do and choose not to do for yourself, even if you're spending time at the church house. And so, we find this man in this physical condition, but it's put in this passage to make the spiritual point that he was not able to make it on his own. Whatever the cause, whatever the influence, he was not man enough to stand up in order to man up, and so as a result of that, everybody else had to take care of him, and he was living as a beggar.
So, that's the circumstance, but now we enter two other men. Verse 1 says, "Peter and John were going into the temple at the ninth hour," that's 3 p.m., "the hour of prayer". So, now, enter two other men, Peter and John. Peter and John are going at 3 o'clock in the afternoon to pray. Now, that's gonna be important in a second. They are taking their lunch hour, if you will, to go into the house of prayer, into the temple to connect with the living and true God. On their way in they pass by the lame man, and then the story unfolds. "When Peter and John were about to enter the temple," verse 3, "he began asking to receive alms". That is, begging for money.
Peter looks at him, along with John, fixes his gaze on him, according to verse 4, and says to the lame man, to the beggar, to the dependent one, "Look at us," so I want your undivided attention. Verse 5 he began to give them his attention, so he pays attention. Peter said, "Pay attention". He says, "Okay," cause why? Expecting to receive something from them. Peter says to him, "I do not possess silver and gold". "Oh, you got to be kidding me. You're gonna tell me pay attention. Now you're gonna tell me you ain't got nothing. You're gonna tell me, you know, the bank is broke". "I have not silver and gold. You've asked me for money, and I can't help you".
See, far too many lame people and lame men are thinking money is gonna solve their problem. "If I can make more money. If I can get a better job". Now, nothing wrong with legitimately making money. Nothing wrong with having a job that is productive. Nothing wrong with that, but when you're lame and the doctor can't heal you and life has turned left on you, there are some things money can't buy. And so, he says, "Silver and gold, I don't have that," but then he adds to it in verse 6, "but what I do have", hmm. I don't have what you asked for. You asked for money, you asked for alms, but I have something. In fact, what I have money can't buy, and here is where it gets beautiful.
He says, "What I have I'm gonna give to you". I love the word "give," because the word "give" is a grace word. Give cannot be earned. He doesn't say, "You have to earn it". But he says, "I'll give it to you. I don't have what you asked for," 'cause far too many men are praying for the wrong thing. They're praying for a better job. They're praying for more money. They're praying for more clout, for more notoriety. They're praying for the wrong thing. They're praying for stuff when God wants to change the person, and when God can't change you and you only want stuff from God, you got it backwards. Stuff is okay as long as God is giving stuff to the right person.
This guy, all this guy wanted was enough to keep his lameness intact. God is not concerned with keeping our lameness intact. He's concerned with changing our lameness so we're not lame men anymore, so what Peter says is, "I got something, but it's not what you have. I have something, but it's not what you asked for. What I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk". Mmm. "In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, stop being lame anymore. I want you to get up and stand up on your own two feet in the name," so let me talk about the name.
In the Bible names have meaning. Names are not merely nomenclature. They're not merely words given to people. Names matter because they were designed to fit the reputation or the character of the person or place that is named, so when you look at something that has a name, it's giving you something that has to do with the reputation or the character of the person or place that receives the name, so let me tell you why this name matters in this context. In chapter 4, verse 7, "When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire," of Peter and John, "'By what power, or in what name, have you done this?'"
So, they're telling the man to walk. The leaders wanna know, "Under whose authority and in whose power and by what name did you tell this lame man to walk"? Now, why do I want you to know that? Because the word "name" is associated with the word "power," okay? Name, power. They wanna know, "What power has a name attached to it that you could tell this lame man to walk," so now when you read in chapter 3, "In the name of Jesus, walk," they were literally saying, "By the power of Jesus walk," because the name was tied to the power associated with the name.
Let me show you Peter's response in chapter 4. Peter responds in verse 10, "Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name this man stands before you in good health". Verse 12, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men whereby you must be saved". So, when they tell the man to walk, they tell the man to walk by the name or according to the power that belongs to Jesus Christ, but let's go a little deeper. He doesn't say just Jesus Christ. He doesn't say the Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn't say our Savior, Jesus Christ. He says, "In the name," that is, the power, "of Jesus Christ of Nazareth".
Why does he say "of Nazareth"? Why does he bring in the place where Jesus was raised? Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but Jesus was raised in Nazareth. Why does he tell you that the power that got this man to walk was a power from the Christ who was raised in a community called Nazareth? Well, that means you need to know something about Nazareth. If you recall, the question was raised to Jesus Christ early on in the book of John, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth"? You see, Nazareth was a no-name town. Nazareth was a town you didn't wanna go in and you didn't wanna go through, so you're telling me that the Jesus from Nazareth has the power to make this man walk?
So, why am I telling you that? I'm telling you that 'cause if you're from Nazareth, that is, you didn't come from a good background, you didn't come from a great beginning, you didn't come from the nice neighborhood, and you've been messed up for 40 years, I wanna tell you Jesus is from Nazareth, so Jesus can meet you no matter where you came from. He can meet you if you're down and out, as well as if you're up and out, so don't tell me what your background was. Don't tell me that your daddy abandoned you. Don't tell me that your mama was no good. Don't tell me that, you know, that you were raised by a rolling stone.
All that may be real, but Jesus was from Nazareth. He was from a no-name place, so he can meet any man in any place at any time, even when your life is half over, and he can turn that thing around, 'cause Jesus is from the hood. Jesus is from Nazareth, and he can meet any man in any place at any time, even though you haven't walked for all of your lifetime, so let's stop, in the words of one of my books, "No more excuses". Let's not make an excuse. "Well, if it wasn't for him, and it wasn't for them, and if it wasn't for the man, and if it wasn't for this circumstance, and if it wasn't, and if it wasn't, and if it wasn't".
All that's real, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we don't need to be walking anymore, but once I bring Jesus the Christ of Nazareth into the equation, I have now changed the story, and I can now tell you, "Get up. Messed up. Get up, man. It's time to walk. It's time to own it, to take responsibility," because there is power in the name of Jesus, even when there is not money on the table. He said, "Silver and gold I do not have," all right? So, he tells him to get up and walk. Oh, but it's getting gooder. Verse 7, "And seizing him", Hmm. Seizing him. That means grabbing him.
To seize is to grab, so he pronounces the power of God, but he doesn't sit there with his hands folded waiting for this man to be zapped from heaven. No, what this man ran into were two men who were not lame, 'cause they were walking, who were willing to grab a man who couldn't walk, didn't think he would ever walk, but introduced him to Jesus Christ and then grab him and make him walk. See, we got a generation of men out here where somebody need to grab. The problem is the wrong folk been grabbing them, and they've been grabbing them, taking them in the wrong direction. Hasn't been spiritual men, godly men, kingdom men grabbing. It's been cultural men, societal men, crazy men that's grabbing 'em.
Peter didn't just pray. It says he seized him. He grabbed him. "And we're not gonna let you stay here. We're not gonna let you stay in this ridiculous state for 40 more years," and so they grabbed him, but the good news about the man is he allowed himself to be grabbed. See, there is two sides. They grabbed, and he became grabable. There are a lotta grabable men out here, if they could only find a Peter and John willing to grab 'em, because, see, a lotta folk use Jesus's name illegitimately. Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk".
There are people in the New Testament, even in the book of Acts, who used Jesus's name and nothing happened. Nothing happened. There was power in the name, but there wasn't connection with the purpose, with the person. There is power in the name, but the power in the name can only be used by a person who bears connection with the name, so you could say, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," all day long. You can sing, "In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus we have the victory". You can do that all day long, but if there is not connection with the person you will not be able to display the power of the name. That is why every man is to passionately pursue a intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, so when you use the name he'll share the power.
Jesus doesn't share the power, you say, "I'm trying to change my wife, change my kid, and I call on the name of Jesus and nothing happens". Well, God wants to know what's the connection like? 'Cause you can't expect your appliances to work if they're not plugged in to some power. You can say refrigerator refrigerate all day long, stove cook all day long, but if you're not plugged into the power you're just talking smack. Peter says, "What I have I give to you, 'cause I'm so connected to the name, that he's gonna allow me to piggyback on the power so I can help another man who is lame himself". Oh, but it gets gooder, 'cause it says, "Seizing him by his right hand, he raised him up; and immediately", I said, "Immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened". Mmm.
There is a lot here. First of all, he was crippled from his mother's womb, so he has a birth issue, but he's been inactive for 40 years 'cause he can't use his legs, so that means they are atrophied. So, there is a crippling problem that he was born with and then there is unused muscles for 40 years, so he's got a physical problem and a weakness, 'cause there is no strength in his limbs, but when the power of Jesus set in it says immediately. You mean without a 12-step program? Whenever God wants to show off, if I can use that phrase, whenever he wants to show out he will not do something progressively. He'll do it on the spot.
See, that's why you need to know who you're dealing with. You say, "Well, nothing has happened yet". Okay, but you have to understand God doesn't need time. He needs purpose and sometimes he will not let things slowly progress. He will let them stay in a state until you are ready for a supernatural infusion of his presence. This man it's been 40 years, but it took him 40 years to be ready for this moment and at the moment that he was ready, God connected him with the two men who had access to the power.
So, if you're here today and you're a lame man, you better find some Peter and Johns who are praying men on their way into the temple, who refuse to let you stay in your stupor, in your lameness. You say, "Well, my father beat my mother, and he had a anger problem, and I inherited his anger problem". You better find two men who know how to control their emotions, who don't have to curse after every other word to make their point, and let those men grab you. You say, "I ain't gonna let no woman tell me what to do". Good. Then you better find some men bigger than you who can tell you what to do so that you can no longer live in lameness, because who knows?
You may be an immediate person. That God wants to turn it around on the spot, and you wanna know, "How did that happen"? It says his ankles and his feet were strengthened, a supernatural infusion of power. Verse 8, "With a leap he stood upright and began to walk". He jumped up. He began to walk. He's not crawling first. He began to walk.
Now, let me say a word to the Peter and Johns that are here, okay? Maybe you're not a lame man, maybe you're a Peter and a John, which is great, but if you're gonna be a Peter and a John, you have to be willing to let God interrupt your plans, even when it's going to a prayer meeting, 'cause, see, they were on their way. They could have said, "Uh, I gotta pray now," but God lets things cross your path that he wants you to minister to. He lets young men cross your path or older men cross your path who need to be grabbed, like the man in John 5 who was there for 38 years. He told Jesus, "I have no one to help me. Nobody stops by to help me, to get me into the cleansing water to change my life".
We got a generation of men out there and the Peter and Johns don't stop. You can't stop for everybody, but you can stop for somebody so that this generation that's being kicked off by the devil, particularly our boys and young men, they've gotta be grabbed by some Peter and Johns who are on their way to the temple to pray. The man leaps up and when the man leaps up he enters the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
Now, that's interesting. You mean he hasn't gone to the Bible Institute yet? Let me tell you what will ignite your prayer life: when God gives you a testimony, okay? See, when God gives you a testimony, you don't need a program. The man jumped up right then and said, "Where are y'all going"? Peter and John said, "We're going to pray". "I'm going to pray with you, and I'm going and I'm getting my praise on". Because, see, when God moves in your life, you don't need to be cute anymore. You don't need to be, and sophisticated. When God has done his thing in your life, you're gonna let it be known, and I'm going to declare to God, "I don't care who listening, I don't care where I'm at".
Do you know this whole prayer meeting changed? Peter and John were going into one prayer meeting. When this man showed up, the whole prayer meeting changed, and I know the prayer meeting changed because of what happened in chapter 4. Everybody started talking about what happened in this lame man's life, who was immediately transformed, and according to chapter 4, verse 4 here is what we read. "But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand". No, you didn't.
Wait now. Peter and John started ministering to one lame man. A few minutes later, 5.000 brothers get saved. That's because when God gives you a testimony, he wants you to touch somebody else. When God gives you a testimony, he wants other men in your circle of influence to get saved and to get transformed, so if all you're doing is coming to church service and all you're doing is coming to a prayer meeting, and you can't show other men who've been changed 'cause you got your praise on and you were not ashamed to be identified with Jesus Christ, then you have missed the purpose of the miracle.
He wants to give you a miracle, but he wants to give you a miracle for a purpose. If you're 40 years old, it's not too late, 'cause God can meet you in the middle of life and turn the rest of your life around. The good news is that your background from Nazareth no longer has to be the definition of your manhood, 'cause God can meet folk in a Nazareth history 'cause he came out of a Nazareth background, and he can still change your life for the better. The good news today is even if you've never won anybody to Christ, God can use you to help win 5.000 more to Christ if you just get your praise on and stop being ashamed to name the name of Jesus Christ. Come on, somebody. There ought to be a man here who's willing to give testimony that "I have committed my life to Christ, I follow Christ, and I'm getting rid of my lameness starting today".
It's time for men to get up and start moving, start walking, to not be lame. Lameness is when you can't get up and go where you need to go, and it's kinda hard to man up if you can't get up, if you can't own what you're responsible for, and if you can't take the movement in the right direction. That's what the story is about in Acts chapter 3, a lame man who needed to start walking, but he needed a little help, and that's why your job as a man, if you are walking, is to help another man who can't walk to walk. That is, to get up, accept responsibility, and begin to move in the direction he should move, starting with his move toward God. We need great men who are godly men to be impactful men so that men no longer are living with defeat, but know there is hope toward victory, and there is nothing better than other men who've seen that victory in their own lives to lay claim to those who need it. So, if you're a lame man, look for some men to help you up on your feet. If you're not a lame man, grab someone who needs help up to their feet and let's get a whole generation of lame men walking.