>The chiming of of the bells sounded louder today. Perhaps because I sat closer to the gates. I have been waiting for my friend Joe. Joe and I had decided earlier that week we would go to the service with the others. The events that had transpired the last couple of months have given us a reason to believe and hope again. I would never have thought to attend the gathering of the brethren ever in my life. These days anywhere they went, people followed them…they are truly turning this city on its head.
At three in the afternoon, many came from near and far to pray in the temple. I was not surprised to see the town cripple also being carried to his corner where he begged for arms from passersby. He had asked his friends to be placed in that spot because he knew most of the town folks would be passing right infront of him.
Passersby usually tossed him silver, gold and sometimes food. In response, he would utter something under his breath; “thank you” It seems. The expression on his face didn’t quite complement his utterances. He looked like he was looking for more than a handout, he was looking for something more. I couldn’t quite pin-point his true desires. A gentleman offered him something to eat; he smiled, took it and began to slowly unwrap the package. It was a piece of loaf wrapped in leafs. I saw him devour the loaf in three bites. “He must be really hungry”; I thought to offer him some money. I began to search my shorts for change. As I frantically moved my fingers through my pockets, I heard noise from a distance; I looked up and there they were;
Peter and John. Peter looked radiant today; the rumours were true, He walked with confidence. The word around town was that his shadow was healing the sick. I had a hard time believing it, but looking at his poise this afternoon. I think I might reconsider. They seem to be in deep thoughts, and yet appeared very approachable. Lately, they have been faithfully following the last wishes of the Teacher; they have a fancy name for it..yes they called it the great commission.
They are stopping…by the cripple? I know Peter hasn’t brought fish to the market since he began following the Teacher and they have been in hiding for a couple of months. I moved closer to see the amount they would place on the outstreched palm of the cripple.
Peter looked straight at him and said boldly “Look at us” He had grown confident. Just a few months ago, the little girl had asked him if he knew the Teacher and he said never. He had denied knowledge of the Teacher two other times for fear he will also suffer the same fate. Today, he appears extremely confident.
I remember just before the Teacher was taken up, he said to them; ” But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It turns out the Teacher was right all along. They were fearless now. These guys have become powerful. They had managed to get the full attention of this cripple. He was looking straight at them.
Then Peter said to him,”Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”
I could not believe what I was hearing. Peter has grown almost arrogrant to expect a lifelong cripple to just.. rise up and walk?
He then reached out, held his right arm and helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. The cripple jumped to his feet and began to walk. “Un-belie-va-ble”, I managed to murmur as my Jaws dropped. I have seen the Teacher perform incredible miracles, but Peter, John? This is amazing.
The town cripple was ecstatic, totally rapturous. Eventually he calmed and went to the temple with Peter and John, all the while walking, jumping and praising God, “Halleluja, halleluja” He sang and danced his way into the temple.
I had witnessed the most incredible act of faith and seen true liberation in a moment. I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned around and it was my friend Joe. He asked what had just happened. He had seen many people running into the temple to hear of the story of the town cripple walk for the first time.
I turned to Joe and said, you know Joe, I learned something today. The crippled man, never needed our silver and our Gold. Those things were good for him, but what he really needed was to be empowered to change his circumstances. What he really needed was to be just like us, to walk freely.
From what I have witnessed today, I think no amount of money could have given him the joy that radiated out of him from the experience of walking freely.
We silently walked together to the temple where Peter and the others glorified the name of Jesus Christ.
**This is a story of a man who was truly liberated from his predicament. He had learned to live with it all his life but in an instant, he was free…completely liberated from his lifelong disability.***
In June of 2008, I commented on one of Floyd McClung’s article.” Africa does not need more foreign aid”
In my comments, I suggested three principles illustrated in Acts 3:5-8 that can empower people to change their circumstances. To some of my audience, I add a fourth.
First Principle: – Winning
They have to get the attention of a role model: ” Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention,”
Second Principle: – Consolidating
They have to be offered the same freedom that was offered to us: “6Then Peter said, Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Third Principle: – Discipling
They need someone to hold them up by their strong hand until their feet gets strong enough to be independent. “7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”
Fourth Principle: – Sending.
They need an avenue to express outwordly, their new found freedom and an opportunity to be a witness. “8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
On one weekend service, Pastor Bob Leach gave a great illustration with three young ladies. on 2 Timothy chapter 2
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
So, What can we give?…. simply, what have we been given?
We all don’t have much to give, but if we gave what we have been freely given, we will find in us, lies the ability to set others free from their lifelong disabilities.
“Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” Simon Peter, Galilean fisherman.