In Acts 3:8 we encounter a man who was walking and leaping and praising God. He had good reason to do so, as he had just received a miracle at the hands of the apostle Peter.
The man who had been healed was lame from birth, and he was set down at a temple gate every day where he would beg for money (Acts 3:2). When Peter and John passed by on their way to the temple, the man asked them for money (Acts 3:3). In response, they told him to look at them (Acts 3:4). Realizing that Peter and John were focusing on him, the man thought they were going to give him money (Acts 3:5). Peter explained that they didn’t have silver or gold, but that what they did have they would give to him. Peter then commanded the man in the name of Jesus the Nazarene to walk (Acts 3:6). This would have seemed a strange direction to give a man who had been lame from birth, but Peter did not leave it at that. Peter grabbed the man’s right hand and pulled him up, and immediately the man’s feet and ankles were strengthened (Acts 3:7). “He jumped to his feet and began to walk” (Acts 3:8).
The healed man began to walk with Peter and John into the temple courts. He was not only walking but “leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8, ESV). The man made a commotion as he put his legs to good use, and all the people in the temple saw him walking and leaping and praising God (Acts 3:9). Onlookers realized that this was the lame man who used to sit at the gate begging, and they were amazed and wondered what had happened (Acts 3:10).
To address the wonderment of the crowd, Peter preached his second great sermon in Acts. Peter explained that the man had been healed not by their own ability or piety, but by the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:11, 16). Peter boldly proclaimed that Jesus had come from God, yet the people had disowned Him and put Him to death (Acts 3:11–15). Now they had an opportunity to change their mind about their Messiah, Jesus, and to turn to Him in faith: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). The people of Jerusalem were witnessing what all the prophets had foretold (Acts 3:24–26).
We can learn from the man who was walking and leaping and praising God (Acts 3:8). He responded to the blessing of God with gratitude. Luke earlier had recorded an instance when Jesus healed ten men who had leprosy, yet nine of them showed no gratitude and did not praise God for what He had done for them. But one of the men did return to Jesus, “glorifying God with a loud voice” (Luke 17:15, NASB). Jesus made it a point to commend the man for his faith (Luke 17:19). Jesus helps us see a connection between faith and gratitude expressed in glorifying God. The man who was healed of leprosy was so grateful that he glorified God with a loud voice. This made it evident to everyone who heard him that he had faith in God. Jesus did not say that the ones who did not show gratitude and glorify God did not have faith, so we have to be careful not to draw conclusions about them. But He commended the man who showed gratitude.
The formerly lame man who was walking and leaping and praising God in Acts 3 was likewise grateful, and he showed it by his enthusiasm and how he was praising God. Gratitude expressed by thanking God is an expression of belief in God. That is not to say that in order to believe in Christ a person must have gratitude (nowhere in Scripture is that a condition of salvation). Still, it is clear that gratitude is well expressed in glorifying God—as demonstrated by the man who was walking and leaping and praising God.
As we consider what Jesus Christ has done for us in saving us by grace through belief in Him (Ephesians 2:8–9), do we express our gratitude and acknowledge Him, giving Him glory and praise? If not, then we haven’t learned an important lesson from the man who was walking and leaping and praising God in the temple courts.