Asking for help is difficult. Whether we need driving directions or a financial loan, we have to admit some degree of inadequacy to the person we’re asking.
Imagine the difficulty—even shame—involved in always having to ask for help. The crippled man had been asking for forty years. He had to ask for transport, money, and food to make it through each day. He was not a drain on society by his own choice, but people treated him as inferior. Ignored by some, condescended to by others, day after day he sat in the dust outside the temple while they went to worship God inside. The irony of the location where he sat should catch our attention: the temple was beautiful; his disfigured form was not. He was so close to the community of worship, but he couldn’t enter or participate. He needed the charity of pious people; he often received their condescension instead.
Peter understood shame. He had only recently been restored from it himself. He didn’t avert his eyes or awkwardly toss a few coins to avoid further contact with this man. Peter spoke to the man in a way that acknowledged his dignity, honestly explaining what he did and did not have to give. Using the resources he had at his disposal, Peter tended Jesus’ broken sheep. He touched him, prayed for him, and literally helped him up.
The man’s physical and emotional transformation was instant. His first impulse was to celebrate everything he had just been given: the ability to walk, to jump, to join the others in the temple, and to worship. Like the Gadarene demoniac, he boldly testified to all God had done for him. The pitiful beggar had been transformed into an exuberant evangelist, offering to others the gift of life.