8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.” (Acts 14:8–10 (ESV)
What is a miracle? The word miracle has three distinctive meanings.
First, a miracle may be a common but significant event. For example, the birth of a baby is often referred to as the miracle of birth. It is in this sense that a miracle may be thought of as pointing to common things which have an uncommon cause in the power of God.
Second, a miracle may be God working through secondary means and at the most opportune time or place. This perspective in effect eliminates the concept of coincidences or random fate.
Third, a miracle is God working against nature. In this sense, a miracle was Jesus turning water in wine (John 2), or raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11). In these instances, there is no natural explanation for these events, and others like them. They are supernatural. Defined in this way, miracles validate the person of God, along with the message, and the messenger, from God.
In today’s text, we witness a miracle of God which is performed, or carried out, by the Apostle Paul. In the city of Lystra, there was a man sitting. The reason for this posture was not simply for relaxation. It was because the man was crippled and could not use his feet. Much like the man born blind (John 9), the man in question had been in this condition since birth. He had never walked.
He happened to be listening to the Apostle Paul speaking. It appears that Paul is preaching in the streets of the city. Paul saw not only the man, but also the man’s trust in, commitment to, dependence upon and worship of Jesus Christ.
Dr. John Walvoord explains, “The dire circumstances of this man are seen in the repeated idea: crippled in his feet … lame from birth … had never walked. Apparently there was no Jewish synagogue in Lystra, so God used a different thrust, the healing of this helpless cripple, to bring the gospel to these people. This is the third time in Acts a cripple was healed (3:1–10; 9:33–35).”
Paul, in a loud voice, commanded the man to stand upright on his feet. The man complied by not only standing but also walking. This miracle supports the Gospel and also draws attention to its public proclamation.
Dr. Walvoord continues by saying, “Paul’s healing of this infirm man closely parallels Peter’s healing in chapter 3. In each case the cripple was lame from birth (3:2; 14:8); both Peter and Paul gazed at the one to be healed (3:4; 14:9); and both healed men responded by jumping and walking (3:8; 14:10). This shows Paul was equal to Peter in his apostleship.”
What was the response by the citizens of Lystra to this divine occurrence? We will answer that question when next we meet.
Soli deo Gloria!