Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
This story is one of those that are most told in Christian circles and we know the story very well. The summary is simple — a lame man meets the apostles and makes a request for alms. It was something he had done to many others, a thousand times. Nothing spectacular. Nothing fantastic. Just an ordinary request. But remember we described the man as lame.
And we move on…..
The man asked the disciples what he could easily get to solve his immediate problems. First and foremost, the man has to eat. He may also have a family and even more, dependents. Rent is also there. Shelter, food and clothing….just like all of us…are his needs. Again, remember the man was still lame.
But was that what he really needed, given that he was lame?
The man needed to eat.
Asking for alms was a legitimate request.
The man was impaired and his impediment militated against his economic and financial progress. However, he was still lame.
Religious places are a good place to ask for alms. Most people know that it is easy to extract resources from people in places of worship because everyone wants to be in good stead with God…. especially now that they are coming to God’s house. You cannot be misbehaving in front of God nah ?
Again, I repeat again, the man was making a legitimate request in a place where he was likely to get the most results. He was lame but not without ideas. His brain was functioning well. His unique selling proposition was that he was not equipped to make a livelihood and thus...those who could should assist him with alms as commanded by God.
His strategy was great.
The results were there to prove it. He kept coming there because he got what he wanted from the faithful worshippers.
Still, he was still lame.
Unknown to him, he was making a request to people (Peter & John) who could solve his PRIMARY problem. As such, he could not make the ultimate request. The man did not make the request that would have made a difference in his life.
He did not know, whom, he was with.
Have we been in this situation before?
You made a sub-optimal request, only to realize that you could have gotten more. Because everything was there for the taking. All you needed to do was - ask.
I remember a video that went viral some years ago. People were asked what they really wanted for Christmas. Some wished for a pair of socks and some wished for a brand new TV. The folks that were asking the questions were laughing off as if it was nothing. Some hours later, when the passengers landed at their destination, everyone got what they wished for. Their gifts were waiting for them as they arrived. Can you imagine that? You could see the glee in the faces of those who wished for things they thought would never be given.
What looked like a joke, small talk and chit-chat turned into reality.
Let’s compare it to the subject matter. This guy was in the presence of people who had wrought mighty miracles. They had opened blind eyes and prayed for the dead and they were brought back to life. They had supernatural powers. But he ONLY asked for alms!! You were in the presence of royalty and you asked for dinner. Can you imagine that?
It is either he did not know whom he was with. Or he had given up on the lameness matter and just wanted to live life as it goes. Or he may have a condition called “learned helplessness”, where people prefer to be at a sub-optimal level of existence because if they leave that state, they would be “coerced” into being responsible. Eg some people prefer to stay in the slums because if they leave there, they would not be getting food stamps from charity, the government, etc.
We do not know why he asked for alms alone. I am only speculating.
We always have to ask ourselves what is paramount in our lives so that when the opportunities of life show up (they will), we will know exactly what to ask for.
One of my friends once asked me, “Do you need transport money or do you want a means to get to where you are going?”. It is a thought pattern that changed how I view life. I needed to be in another city not necessarily in need of money. That clarifying thought helped me a lot. It made me ask for what I want.
Assuming you wanted to go to Warri from Benin. Let’s assume the cost is 5,000 naira. You asked a friend and he told you he did not have the funds to loan you or gift it to you. Two days later, you heard he drove to Warri. How would you feel? Not great I presumed. If you had told him you needed the money as transport fare to Warri, he is most likely to have offered you a lift in his car. You get my drift.
By experience, I have learned to ask for what I really want.
Lord, I need a promotion not a meeting with HR.
Lord, I need healing and not 1.5 million naira for surgery.
Lord, I need to be in Abuja and not necessarily a flight ticket.
Lord, I need you to cater to my children and not necessarily move locations.
We have to define what we need after thinking through it.
Back to our story, it ended well by the way. Thankfully Peter and John decided to go ahead and help the man out of his situation. The story has a good ending.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
In the name of Jesus, the man was healed.
Glory to God in the highest.