Great Expectations

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God,  and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” (Acts 3:1-10)

Oh, how I am lame man.

Desperate for spare change from man, expecting nothing from God.

Eyes fixed on the ground, so entrapped in victim mentality that I dare not raise my gaze to see the Lover of my soul standing with outstretched arms, ready to take me by the hands and lift me from my own pity party.

Instead, I hope and pray that those passing by will be drawn in by my miserable state and take a moment to toss meager pennies my way. My expectation is to barely scrape by, fullness and abundance so far removed from my line of thinking.

I see myself so clearly in this man, and I think that (if we’re honest) many of you could say the same. However, just like this man, we are one moment away from encountering the One who could change everything.

*******

It was a day like any other: waiting on others to carry him to the gates of the temple to take his post. Eyes on the ground, a quiet plea for change stumbling out of his mouth, hoping someone would do their religious duty and toss a spare coin his way.

Enter Peter and John.

With the Holy Spirit burning within them and the town of Jerusalem still stirring from the incredible events at Pentecost (see Acts 2), the atmosphere was shifting from the ordinary. Expectation for the miraculous was subtly welling. Peter and John were still attempting to make sense of the ways that the Lord was moving and working with them, so they consistently spent time in His presence at home and at the temple for daily prayer.

Then, they saw him.

In the same fashion as their Rabbi and Savior, they both immediately took notice of this man that was stationed at the outskirts. Their Teacher traveled the outskirts, keeping company with those whom the world had so conveniently set on the fringes.

The Spirit welled within them, and they knew exactly what Jesus would do. They diverged from the path to the temple and directed their gaze at this man – approaching him with intentionality. Expectation.

When they approached the man, the first thing that Peter did was ask this man to look up. Peter knew that the man needed to shift his vision to be fully engaged in what was about to take place. Just as Peter watched his Savior do whenever He performed a miracle, Peter made sure that the man knew that he was seen – actually seen, not given a mere glance.

The miracle begins with the realization that Someone sees you, right where you are.

The text tells us that the man expected to receive something from them. His past experience told him that at the temple gates, he could expect to receive spare change from those entering the temple – perhaps those who wanted to do their “good deed for the day.”

His identity was found in begging from men, from sitting on the outskirts of the presence of God.

Peter and John perform this miracle in the name of Jesus, showing this man that his expectation was too low. He expected to receive scraps from man’s table rather than sit down at the feast of God, and Peter and John learned well enough from Jesus that this man was exactly the guest that He longed to have beside Him at His table (Luke 14:21-23).

The first thing that this man does after he receives his healing is to enter the temple alongside Peter and John and praise the Lord. His heart and soul had just experienced the presence of God, and now his body wanted to make the journey from the gates to the court of the temple.

Seen and invited in.

What are you hoping for? What disappointment have you experienced that has told you that you belong on the outskirts? What pain still clings to your heart, plaguing you from expecting fullness? What are the scraps you have been feeding on instead of taking your place at the table? 

For me, affirmation from others is my “scrap of choice.” I crave hearing others say that I am ______ enough (pretty, thin, talented, good, etc.); I beg man to speak the things that my Father has already told me. Rather than running into the presence, I camp out at the gates and long for man to give what God has already provided in abundance.

What if we lived with God-sized expectation? What if we stopped begging from one another for the things that are already ours in Jesus? What if we stopped enabling one another by giving out spare change – instead, actually taking the time to truly see one another and refuse to allow anyone to stay at the gates? What if we went to the gates every day, pulling people up from the place of victimhood and bringing them to the Table with us?

May we expect to sit in our rightful place at His table and make frequent trips to the fringes to bring others with us to the Presence. May we expect Jesus to move and work through us in the ways that He did on earth.

May holy expectation define our days.

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