But Peter said,"I do not possess silver and gold,
but what I do have I give to you: In the name of
Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"
Look At Us
From before I can remember, my papa and I would go down to the temple at the hour of prayer. He wouldn’t close his shop for the day. He put a note on the door and left everything just as it was. Then he stopped at home to get me. Mama and the girls would stay at home getting dinner ready.
“Men are made for prayer,” my papa would tell me, when I asked him why my sister didn’t have to come.
Before the praying started, the rabbi would say a few words, to guide our petitions. Mostly I didn’t know what he was saying, and didn’t much care. But I still remember one talk.
The rabbi read from the scrolls containing the Psalms. The Psalms were always my favorite readings. That day he read from one of Solomon’s psalms.
He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. Psalm 72:13
Then he told us that any man who gave to the poor was doing the Almighty’s work. He continued by telling us that when we put alms in the hand of the poor, it is as if we are putting our money directly into the hand of the Lord Himself.
He reminded us of the proverb:
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed. - Proverbs 19:17
The next day when papa came to get me, I remember asking him for a penny.
“My little Gideon, what will you do with a penny today?”
“Papa, I want to give it to the lame man who sits near the temple gates. He’s there every day, and Rabbi Yosef says if we give to the poor we lend to the Lord.”
“Well then, that’s just fine, Gidi, we’ll both give the Lord a loan today.”
He went back into his room where his coin purse hung on a hook on the wall.
“Here you go Gidi my boy, you can carry them both, one for you and one for me.”
I can still remember how cool the copper felt in my tiny hand. From that day on we never went to the temple without two coppers for the lame man there. Papa told me he had been there as long as he had lived in the city.
I’m twenty now, and my papa and I still close up shop for the hour of prayer every day. I’m married and have a boy of my own, but I still work in my father's shop. It won’t be long before my little Josiah starts working with us too. We still grab a few coins to give the beggar as we head out of the shop.
One day, as we neared the temple there were some men standing over our beggar. We thought of him as our beggar, since we had given him money for more than fifteen years. We rarely stopped as we walked by. We just tossed our coins into the hat that sat before him.
I’m not sure I had ever seen his eyes. His eyes are always on the dust of the path. It may have been shame that kept his eyes from meeting ours, or perhaps he simply found people more generous without the tacit confrontation of his gaze. In any case, we never stopped there, but dropped our coins and kept moving.
These two men were standing right there and talking with him. As we approached I heard the beggar repeat the words I had heard a thousand times.
“Do you have a coin for this cripple.”
The words were so familiar to me. They were a part of me, like our meal time prayers, or my sisters giggles. I think it was those words that kept the memory of Rabbi Yosef’s message about giving to the poor so fresh in my mind.
One of the men gave a sort of shrug as if to say, we have no coin to share, but then the other reached out his hand, not as though he was going to give something, but as if he was going to pull him up out of his cot.
At this point our lame friend didn’t see what was going on, because he was still looking down.
As this stranger reached his hand out, I heard him say:
“Look at us!”
The crippled man raised his head, tentatively at first, but once he got a look at this man’s eyes, he began to look—I don’t know how to say it—with his whole face. The eyes I’d never seen, and the face I knew only by profile, now looked directly at this man—he sounded like a Galilean—with his outstretched hand.
"I do not possess silver and gold,”
At this the lame mans gaze wavered with an edge of disappointment.
“but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"
His hand hung there for what seemed like minutes, until finally the lame man grabbed it and they both pulled, the Galilean pulled up and the lame man held on with both hands. Then he was on his feet.
As I stood staring it started to dawn on me how impossible this was. I may have never seen this man’s eyes, but his feet and legs sat out there in the dust and grime of the temple courts every day. They were shriveled and useless. The man had to be forty years old, and he had never used those legs for anything.
And now he was standing just a few steps away from me.
He bent over at the waist and reached down with his hands and felt his legs. I could see that they were no longer the tiny twigs that lay beside him yesterday. These were legs, with flesh and muscle.
He took a cautious step or two—feeling for his balance—testing his new legs, getting a feel for this unfamiliar sensation. Then he was walking, then leaping, then walking and running and leaping, all the while shouting praises to the Almighty, and praises to Jesus that Nazarene who was crucified just a couple months back over on skull hill.
The crowd was growing now, and the beggar—everyone knew him—was leaping and shouting praises—and shaking everyone’s hands.
The one who had lifted the lame man off his bed called for silence, and a hush came over the crowd. We all wanted to hear what this man had to say.
I later learned this was Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples. He began to preach to us about how God the Father had sent Jesus, His servant, and how we had crucified the Lord’s holy and righteous Son. This fisherman began to open our eyes to the words of the prophets and of Moses himself, and show us how in our ignorance we had killed the very Son of God.
As he preached the temple priests saw the ruckus and called the temple guards, who arrested Peter and his companion John, but not before Peter led thousands of us to faith in Jesus.
That was the day the Lord fulfilled His promise to me. For years I had lent Him my pennies, and today, He paid me my interest. He gave me an inheritance far beyond the value of copper, silver or gold. He gave me new life.
To read the original story, see Acts 3:1-4:4.
Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015 - all rights reserved.
If you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Holy Spirit, you might like my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.
See you again soon.