Summary: This is a First Person Narrative of the Lame Man that Peter and John healed in Acts 3. He says that when a person really sees the need of another person, then they can respond in faith and take a risk for that person. When that happens God blesses and g
Things Are Not Always As They Seem
[Show Acts 3 from Visual Bible or have it read by someone else.]
[Enter from the back dressed in character]
One thing that story teaches us is that things are not always as they seem. I learned that in a pretty dramatic way. If you had met me just a few weeks ago, I would not be walking into this room. That’s right, I am the man in the story you just heard.
Every day for over thirty years I have been carried by some friends to my spots outside the temple. In the morning they take me to the main gate for the morning prayers. And then in the afternoon they take me to the beautiful gate for afternoon prayers. My people pray three times a day and the afternoon prayers are the busiest at the beautiful gate. They call it that because many years ago a man by the name of Nicanor made a generous donation to the temple to fix it up. It is decorated with gold and jewels. It is beautiful indeed. And more people come to pray in the afternoon because they can take a break from their work in the heat of the day and come to the temple.
Since my only means of support was the generosity of others, I would sit on my mat outside the gates of the temple and beg for alms. Almsgiving is an important part of my people’s faith. They are commanded to pray, sacrifice and give alms to the poor. So of course the temple is good place to sit and remind them of their duty to those of us less fortunate.
I had been unable to walk since I was born. And when I became old enough, my poor parents would take me to the temple so I could do my part to help support the family. Of course they have been dead for a number of years. Living to the age of 40 is rare in my part of the world, but for some reason God spared my life.
So every day since I was a young man, I have had the exact same kind of day. I sit at the gates by the temple all morning and then all afternoon and as people walk by I call out to them.
“Alms! Alms! Alms for the poor! Alms!” Usually they just walk by, but every so often someone will throw a small coin at me. It is seldom more than a lepton or two. A lepton in my culture is the smallest denomation available. It is almost worthless. But if enough people give you a lepton, then you have anough to buy a small loaf of bread or a dried fish. I know a man in the market who saves his leftovers for me and some of my friends. So if I stayed all morning I might make enough to have a small piece of dried fish or a scrap of bread. I would just drink the water from the river. I survived.
One time a wealthy man was coming to the temple, and he had a huge entourage of people. I cried out to him and without even looking at me, he flipped a whole danarius at my feet. I saw it sitting their in the dirt beside the path. I could not believe my eyes. It was shiny gold as if it had just come out of Herod’s mint here in Jerusalem.
Just as I reached down to pick it up a pharisee kicked it out of my reach. He picked it up and said, “That is too much for alms!” And he dropped three lepton in front of me. I was so angry, but what could I do.
God somehow decided it was best for me to be born that way and live most of my life as a beggar. Someone needs to be poor. How else will the people be able to give their alms. Even I will give a coin to one of my fellow beggars every now and then to please the Lord.
I have often prayed as the people walked by. “Lord, please just send me someone who is very generous. If I could only have enough money for a nice meal. If only I could pay a tithe and please you. And Lord if you only I could taste a drop of wine on the Passover or the Day of Atonement. Please, Lord. Just once send me someone who will at least look at me and talk to me like a person.”
Even my family treats me like a pet. There was one time that a man came to Jerusalem. He claimed to be a Messiah and would go around healing people of fevers and headaches. You know, nothing that anyone could ever tell that there was actually something wrong with them. He would gather up the dirt and throw it in the air and yell out in Hebrew and Aramaic. And then he would touch them on the head or the shoulders and push them over. They would jump up and shout that they were healed.