As Peter and John reach the Beautiful Gate, they were stopped by a cripple asking for alms. Luke gives us a description of him and initially we cannot see any beauty in him. Instead we see a picture of misery because he is a man who had been a cripple for forty years. His only role in life is to lie on the roadside begging.
Yet as we continue to look at him, we can see beauty coming into his experience. First, we can see the beauty of a person who appreciates mercy. The cripple had learned many years previously that his only hope was in the mercy of those who saw his need. Up until now, he had been dependent on human mercy as far as we can tell. Yet once he experienced healing, he realised that he had experienced the mercy of God.
What should be our response to the mercy of God? One detail of our response must be to realise that divine mercy is always undeserved. This is the essential feature of mercy. Mercy is always given to the undeserving, to those who do not have a right to it. When we see a person who realises that he has been the recipient of undeserved mercy, we are looking at something beautiful.
Second, we can see the beauty of a person who experiences a miracle of grace. This man experienced a physical miracle at least, and if he was not converted before he also experienced a spiritual miracle. The man who could not walk could now take steps. It was not a gradual recovery, but an instantaneous and complete restoration to health. His experience here is a wonderful picture of what takes place in the heart of a sinner when he or she believes in Jesus. Such a person was not merely a spiritual cripple with several handicaps. Instead he was spiritually dead, unaware of God. He was unable to walk in the paths of God and had no desire for them. Yet the grace of God touched him through the gospel, in a manner similar to how Peter’s hand lifted up the cripple, and brought spiritual life into his previously dead soul. Such a person is truly beautiful, spiritually alive.
Third, we can see the beauty of a person who enjoys deliverance from his former condition. The cripple’s response was ‘walking and leaping and praising God’. He was thrilled with what had happened to them. There is nothing more beautiful than to see a person who is full of spiritual joy. His joy was rooted in gratitude to the God who had sent his servants to bring him deliverance; therefore he associated himself with them. The change in his outlook caused the onlookers to be ‘filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him’. Similarly, believers should be full of joy: the joy of forgiveness, the joy of a divine Companion, the joy of a heavenly home, the joy of the family of God, the joy of sharing in the things of God. Such a person is truly beautiful to behold.