Paul Heals a Cripple

WEEK 30:


Acts 14:8-10 8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: 9 The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

The first city in Lycaonia Barnabas and Paul visit is Lystra, about 20 miles (32 kilometres) south-southwest of Iconium. There was no synagogue in Lystra, so Barnabas and Paul took advantage of the city square to proclaim the Gospel. A public forum was a standard fixture of Greek and Roman cities.  It was usually located near the marketplace where there would always be lots of people. A raised dais held a seat where the city magistrate would sit and mete out judgments on both civil and criminal matters.  Anytime a citizen of the Empire wanted to make an announcement, he would stand on the steps and shout his message. All important news was proclaimed there. 

Since there was no synagogue in Lystra, Paul used his rights as a Roman citizen to proclaim the Good News of Salvation from the position of this public venue. As he spoke, not far away sat a man who’d been born lame. He was probably there in that busy place because he was begging. As he listened to Paul preach the Gospel and teach on the life and work of Christ, he heard great words of hope. Jesus had healed the weak and infirm. The more Paul spoke, the greater his faith grew. As Paul looked around at those gathered to listen, he saw the hope grow on the lame man’s countenance, and perceiving it was his time to be healed, as Peter had done with the lame man at the temple gate some 15 years before (Acts 3:1-11), he boldly told the man to “stand upright on thy feet”. He did. Standing up his legs was made whole and he put them to good use jumping around the square.

A point to note here. Paul saw the lame man had faith to be healed. How? What did Paul see that informed him of the lame man’s faith? Was it his countenance? Faith in Jesus had transformed this man’s countenance so that hope shone where it had not been before. The presence and power of the Spirit to conform lost sinners into saved children of God was so real Paul could SEE it. He could tell who the believers were just by looking at them.

This story portrays Paul as an authentic messenger of God in the tradition of Peter, who also healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-10). Luke uses parallel expressions in the two accounts: “lame from birth,” “looked directly at him,” “jumped up and began to walk.” Both Peter and Paul are shown to be using the same power as did Jesus, who also healed a crippled person (Luke 5:17-26)

As Christians we are citizens of Heaven and children of Almighty God. Though we live in an oppressive land, that doesn’t change the fact of our identity nor should it steal the joy our faith brings. I ask what does your countenance convey about your faith?