Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6)
“Can you spare some change?”
“Sorry, I don’t have any.”
When asking for coins, beggars are used to hearing “Sorry, I don’t have any.”
Peter looked down at an expectant beggar, who hoped that the lameness in his legs would move temple-goers to sympathy and generosity. Hopeful to receive a few coins, the lame man heard bad news: “I don’t have any money.”
Peter said it like this: Silver and gold I do not have. Peter didn’t have any money, but he did have authority from Jesus to heal the sick (what I do have I give to you). Peter knew what it was like to have God use him to heal others, because Jesus had trained him in this (as in Luke 9:1-6).
For some people, to say “silver and gold I do not have” is about the worst thing they could say. They feel the church is in ruins if it must say “silver and gold I do not have.” But it is much worse if the church never has the spiritual power to say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”
There is a story – perhaps true – about a humble monk walking with a Roman Catholic cardinal at a time in the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was at its peak of power, prestige, and wealth. The cardinal pointed to the opulent surroundings and with satisfaction said to the monk, “We no longer have to say, silver and gold I do not have.” The monk replied, “But neither can you say, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
When Peter and John gave him no money, we might have heard the lame man complain: “You don’t care about me. You won’t support me. Look at the mess I’m in.” But Peter and John wanted something greater than supporting the man in his condition. They wanted to transform his life by the power of the risen Jesus Christ.
Peter had something to give. He said, What I do have I give you. Peter gave something of the power of Jesus to the lame man, but he could not give it unless he had it in his own life. Many people want to be able to say, “rise up and walk” without having received the power of Jesus to transform their own life.
Significantly, Peter did this in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Since Nazareth was a village of no importance, some people thought it was an insult to emphasize that Jesus came from there. It didn’t fit with an image of success.
Peter didn’t care, because he had something greater than a successful image. Something greater than money. Peter had the power of Jesus in and through his life.