At one of the Temple’s gates, a lame man was begging. His circumstances were hard. In addition to not working and begging for money, he was unable to walk. Culturally, he was discriminated against for this, often insulted and dehumanized.
It’s important to note Jesus probably saw this man during His ministry. The man was lame from birth and carried to the Temple every day. Jesus would have seen him as He went to the Temple. But, Christ intended the man to be healed later by His disciples, as it happened.
In Acts 3, Peter and John encounter this man as he was being carried to the Temple, begging. Peter speaks to him and gives him something more valuable than money. He healed the man in the name of Jesus. Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (v. 6) “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.” (v. 7-8) The Bible here mentions the word leaping twice, to emphasize the man’s actions after the miracle. If we think about the magnitude of this moment, a man unable to walk is now leaping. What is the significance of this word, “leaping?”
In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesized about the return of God’s people from exile. In Isaiah 35, he described the state of God’s people coming back home from the Babylonian Exile. Restoration will come soon, he emphasized. The land will be restored, but there is much more to what restoration entailed. Isaiah wrote, “3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” (Is.35:3,5-6). This restoration was great. It was restoration to the land and also physical and spiritual restoration to God’s people.
These words Isaiah said were quoted by Jesus during His ministry. In Luke 7, we find John the Baptist in prison wanting to Know if the Jesus he heard of was the Messiah or not. Probably, John also wanted Jesus to release him from prison. When Jesus answered John’s question, Jesus did so by quoting Isaiah 35:5-6. Jesus affirmed that He came to restore all creation. Jesus came to lead us in a new exodus, to free us from our enslavement to sin and death and restore us physically and emotionally. Jesus came to reconcile us to each other and to God (Eph.2:14-17). Jesus accomplished this through His life, death and resurrection.
At the beginning of His ministry, during His first sermon, Jesus quoted another passage from Isaiah. Isaiah 61: 1-2 which to speak to God’s restoration. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus chose to quote a powerful passage from Isaiah. The “year of the Lord’s favor” was a reference to the Jubilee year. We read about the “year of Jubilee” in Leviticus 25. God reminded His people, Israel, that they were slaves in Egypt. God redeemed them, made them free and proclaimed that all of Israel were brothers, equal and belonging to God. The Jubilee year was known as the year of freedom and rest. It was the year that all slaves were freed, all debts would be canceled, Sabbath rest for all including the land for a whole year, and restoration. It was a year that proclaimed justice and equality for all.
Jesus came to restore God’s image in us. Jesus’s ministry “proclaim[ed] the year of the Lord’s favor.” When Jesus quoted Isaiah, He was fulfilling the prophecy of restoration. Isaiah had originally said these words to God’s people who were troubled, grieving, anguished and in exile. They were waiting for God to save them. Isaiah gave them this good news promising that they would be restored and healed. And the promise was fulfilled, in Jesus. Jesus not only proved this with His actions, but also by specifically saying that the promises given in Isaiah were fulfilled. “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21b). This moment is a powerful testament to how Jesus’ life brought restoration.
Jesus came to restore us to God by releasing us from the bondage of sin and liberating us from Satan. Jesus freed us from our enslavement to sin and death. Jesus came to those who are depressed, disregarded, discriminated against and those who are looking for justice and equality. In Adam, our world was broken. People were broken. But Jesus came to make mankind complete again.
The year of Jubilee that Jesus brought started by His first coming. It will remain until it will be completed in His second coming. Looking back to our passage in Acts 3, what happened to the lame man when he “leaped” is a sign of the Messianic age, the kingship of Jesus, the year of Jubilee. (Is.35:3,5-6; 58:6; 61:1-2). It is a sign that Jesus is the king and that justice is for all.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection brought upon us the year of the Jubilee. He freed us from enslavement to sin and death. Jesus reconciled us to God; He restored our relationship with God and also with each other. Jesus proclaimed that justice is for all. Jesus restored God’s image in us that was distorted by Adam’s sin. In Jesus, we see restoration and healing. In Jesus, our world is made whole again.
It’s a significant moment to realize that the first miracle the disciples did in Jesus’ name was to restore humanity, with this man at the Temple. The man’s pain and hurt was felt in many ways. The healing addressed his needs physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, and socially. The healing emphasized a reconciliation that symbolized everything the Jesus’ ministry represented.
What our great nation is going through now needs God’s healing hand to touch our hearts and minds so we may understand that, “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19). We are all made in the image of God, we are loved by God, and we are all valued. Jesus taught us to be like Him. To shine His light in a world full of darkness and discrimination. To love, as He first loved us, and to respect others as they are created in God’s image. As disciples of Christ, it is our role to heal the broken hearted and speak reconciliation into humanity in the name of Jesus. Just as Christ’s first disciples healed the broken hearted in Jesus’ name, so we are called for this same reason also.
May the Lord bless you all and keep you safe. Please join me as we pray together Psalm 103.
Pastor Mofid Wasef