He enjoyed this attention, reveled in it. He loved to hear the sound of his voice, to see her eyes dart toward him intent on each word, to hear her catch her breath in surprise at some surprising bit of his stories. He always felt no one really listened to him at the temple gate. God-fearers! They seemed to be more afraid to meet the gaze of a scrawny crippled man, than of the God they professed to revere! No, they were careful to not look into his eyes and see his pain, for then they might have to hear his voice crying out for alms. They may even have to ante up on the challenge of their faith. That might be too much religion for them, he was sure.
Turning his head toward to gate, he noticed that a crowd was gathering, and the sun reminded him that it was almost the hour of prayer. Collecting his hat in his wispy, twisted fingers, he noted that he had been remiss in calling out for much of the past hour as he daydreamed. With an exasperated voice, he began a desperate call, intending to make up for lost time in the rush hour crowd. “Alms, alms! Help me please kind lady! Sir, throw a cent for a poor beggar like myself! Dear family, has God blessed you? Then share with the likes of me! Help me, please!” No one seemed to be paying him any attention at all, and they scurried past the faster. So, he called out even louder. “Alms, please, alms! Help me! I am but a poor beggar! Look at me… take pity! Lend me your hearts. Alms, please…please sir!”
With those last words, the beggar had felt the swish of a man’s cloak as he stopped in his tracks, and turned toward him. Finally! Someone was listening to him. Looking deep into the kind man’s eyes, the beggar smiled and held out his hat in his left hand, expecting to receive a gift. “Look at us! I have nothing made out of silver or gold, but I will give you what I have… in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!”
Then the man did the strangest thing, right there in front of his friend and the others who had paused to see the exchange. He reached out his right hand to the crippled beggar. As their fingers touched, the crippled man felt a surge of power course straight through his body to the soles of his feet. His hat fell to the ground, coins rolling across the pavement and landing at the feet of people who were by this point standing stark still, motionless with their mouths open! Suddenly, his feet and ankles felt strong…stronger than they had ever felt in his life.
Leaping up, as if on the end of a taught strand of cord, he stood straight upright, walked three steps forward as the giver stepped back, and bending at the knees he leaped… sling-shotted into the air. Landing on one foot, he broke into a mad dash before the other ever hit the ground. Running from one side of the courtyard to the other, he slapped several folks on the back, threw his arms around the necks of others, and spun them around before dancing off across the courtyard again… around and around he ran in circles. The crowd that had gathered now was laughing, as his joy contagiously coursed through them. Had they not seen him day after day? Was this not the lame man who sat at the gates begging for his keep?
A surge of shock was rippling through the crowd, as the news spread to those who were already inside the temple. “It’s the lame man…you know… the beggar by the gate… he’s walking!” The words reverberated through the temple courtyard, and penetrated deep into the temple, where some who heard could not believe their ears. It was the religious teachers and leaders of the temple. They debated among themselves what was to be done about the fact that the miracles were not over with; had not died with the Healer.
Meanwhile, the beggar had wrapped his arms around the givers, for they were two of the disciples of Jesus, Peter and John themselves. As he hugged them, and cried for joy, they led him towards the temple, laughing for joy. By the time they got as far as Solomon’s Porch, a crowd was thronging them, with everyone aghast at the miracle they had just witnessed. It was too much to believe. They had known this man for more than forty years… they knew his family. He was crippled!
The young preacher Peter realized that people were shocked at the sight of a man healed with such miraculous explosive power, and began to explain how he had not been the one at all to heal him…Jesus had healed the man. Jesus was no longer dead. He had arisen, and his power had been given to his followers to heal the sick. As he preached, to the crowds, several ladies were beginning to come back out of the court of the women to see what was happening. Among them were the four daughters of Phillip, and the ladies from “the Way.” Hours passed as the men preached, and many were converted to the faith. Then the religious teachers and leaders of the temple came out, and insisted that the crowd be broken up. Hearing with their own ears the name of Jesus, that terrorist rebel they themselves had crucified just weeks before, they seized the young preachers and hauled them off to spend the night in jail. But, the men of the young movement gathered together another 5,000 believers from the crowds that day.
One of those was the beggar, a changed man! He ran all the way home to tell his family the good news. And, who knows what great work he did for the kingdom of God, after experiencing the dynamite power of Jesus Christ in his hand, and feet, and heart, and health?!
Related Scriptures used to build the telling.
Joel 2:23 Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he has given you the former rain faithfully, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (NKJV)
Acts 3:25 You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (NKJV)
Acts 21:8-9 The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. (NLT)
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (NKJV)