Read Acts 14
Focus on verse 9-10
When I was in junior high we used to joke about people having “ESP” (extra sensory perception) and would pretend to be able to read someone’s mind or be able to determine what was written on a folded up piece of paper without looking at it. It was a silly imagination game – or so we thought.
In today’s reading the Apostle Paul appears to have something like ESP when he is able to determine that a cripple man has the faith to be healed.
He (the cripple) listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. (v. 9-10)
There apparently was something extraordinary that gave Paul the ability to determine the man was ready to be healed. Luke describes it as “seeing that he had faith to be healed”. We are not informed of exactly what it was that Paul “saw” in the man, or how it was Paul was able to see it. What we do know is that the Holy Spirit that resided within Paul could see and know what the man was thinking, and was the One who made it known to Paul. The Holy Spirit of God is possibly also the One who performed the miracle of restoring the man’s ability to walk.
Interestingly, the crippled man did not have to learn how to walk. The text tells us he was crippled from birth. He had never walked in his life prior to this point. If a person develops normally, walking is a skill that has to be learned. In this case the man appears to just get up and walk. This only make the miracle that muach more impressive, since it not only healed him physically, it also caused his brain to be instantly programed to know how to walk.
There is a third aspect to the miracle that involved Paul knowing that the man was ready to be healed. This is the part that I find intriguing. I suspect it was what we might call the “spiritual gift of discernment”. Paul demonstrates that this gift is present within him when he recognizes the presence of demonic spirits as well. (Acts 16:18)
Ultimately, it is of little consequence what one calls it – ESP, discernment, extraordinary perception – what matters is that one understands and recognizes where the power comes from. Without the help of the Holy Spirit Paul would not have been able to heal the man, in fact, without the presence of the Holy Spirit, Paul would not likely have departed on the journey he was on in the first place.