A story based (loosely) on Acts 5:27-40, Mark 10:46-52, and Acts 3:1-10.
(…continued) I couldn’t get around, but now Bart could, so he followed Jesus all over Jerusalem that week. In the evening, he would come back and tell me about this new Messiah. Jesus did many more miracles, along with preaching and teaching every day. The crowds around him were always large. But things were getting tense. Jesus had supporters who would die for him, and there were others who wanted him dead. Unfortunately, the ones with the power in the city were the enemies of Jesus. They were able to get Jesus arrested, and then, sentenced to death. That was a huge disappointment for me. I had heard that Jesus was healing people of all sorts of ailments, even those like myself who could not walk. I kept hoping he might come my way again. Bart had even told the leader of the disciples about me– a man named Peter. But that would not be happening now. Jesus was on the cross, being crucified between two thieves. Messiah or not, how could they kill this good man who had helped so many, and could have helped so many more. We did not understand it, but who can understand Roman and Jewish politics?
Things were quiet then for a couple days. No begging is allowed on the Sabbath, but Sunday morning I was back out on the street bright and early. I heard a couple soldiers talking about some tomb being broken into overnight. Just then Bart came running up and told me it was Jesus’ tomb they were talking about. The tomb of Jesus was empty! Bart said the official explanation was that the body was stolen.
“But why would anyone want a dead body?,” I asked.
“That is what everyone is wondering” Bart said. “Some are saying Jesus rose from the dead and has already appeared to some people, and others are saying his followers stole the body so they could say he was risen from the dead.”
“But why would anyone want to make up a story like that?” I asked. “Do they also want to be nailed to a cross?”
“That’s what I thought,” said Bart, “So I think Jesus might be alive again.”
“That’s not what I meant,” I said.
“Why not?” said Bart, “We had heard that he raised others from the dead, and you know what he did for me. God can do anything, and I believe this man was from God.”
I never saw Jesus again. I saw him only for that brief moment before he gave Bartimaus his sight. But I did become convinced that he was alive, because Bartimaues did see Jesus a few days later, and told me all about it. Jesus was around for only a few weeks after his resurrection, and then he returned to heaven. He never did get together an army, and never did fight, and, he never did get back to heal me. Yet, he said he was the Messiah, and so I came to believe in a different kind of Messiah, one we never expected. And I didn’t spit anymore when I hear the word.
Several weeks later Bart introduced me to Peter. Peter sat down by me and we talked for a long time. I told him about my experiences with other ‘messiahs.’ He told me many wonderful stories about the true Messiah. Then he said a prayer for me. When he was done, he looked at me and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk.” I hadn’t heard about any more miracles after Jesus left, but Peter said that the spirit of Jesus was still with us. He then reached down for my hand to help me up. I felt the strength return to my legs, and I was able to stand, and then walk, and then even jump up and down.
I had been healed– delivered– in the name of the Messiah.
Peter and John Healing a Lame Man, stone carving by Bertel Thorvaldsen, 1793, Denmark
Acts 3:1-10 — The time of prayer was about three o’clock in the afternoon, and Peter and John were going into the temple. A man who had been born lame was being carried to the temple door. Each day he was placed beside this door, known as the Beautiful Gate. He sat there and begged from the people who were going in. The man saw Peter and John entering the temple, and he asked them for money. But they looked straight at him and said, “Look up at us!” The man stared at them and thought he was going to get something. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold! But I will give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, get up and start walking.” Peter then took him by the right hand and helped him up. At once the man’s feet and ankles became strong, and he jumped up and started walking. He went with Peter and John into the temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone saw him walking around and praising God. They knew that he was the beggar who had been lying beside the Beautiful Gate, and they were completely surprised. They could not imagine what had happened to the man.
Blessed are all your people, O God and King, who have traveled over the tempestuous sea of this mortal life, and have made it to the harbor of peace and joy. Watch over us who are still in our dangerous voyage; and remember those exposed to the rough storms of trouble and temptations. Frail is our vessel, and wide is the ocean; but as you have set us on our course, so steer the vessel of our life toward the everlasting shore of peace. Bring us to the quiet haven of our heart’s desire, where you, O God, live and reign for ever and ever.
–St. Augustine (354-430)