4:18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
Have you ever tried to put yourself in someone else's shoes? To see what the world would look like from where they are standing? I see all these pictures from the Fort McMurray fire and pictures of the evacuee centers and I try to imagine going through what they are going through. I see pictures and read stories of Christians being captured and killed by ISIS and I try to imagine what it would be like to live in a place like that. I read the stories coming out of North Korea lately and I wonder what my world view would be if I was raised in that very different place? I wonder if the people there are happy and think it is normal or even better than our world or do they know as little about our world as we know about theirs? Or do they wish they could escape but can't?
When I read the stories in the Bible I try and put myself in the story. I try my best to place myself in the shoes of every person or at least every perspective in the room. If I were Peter what thoughts and emotions would I be experiencing at that moment. If I were a council member what would I be thinking? If I were the lame man thrust into a conflict that isn't mine what would I be thinking?
Today I'd like to look through the eyes of the lame man watching this conflict he never signed up for. Think about what he has been through in less than 24 hours. 'Yesterday' he was brought to the temple by his family so he could collect some spare change from the worshippers gong in and out of the temple. Did he believe in God? Was he there because it was a good spot to beg? Did he have any hopes or dreams at all of ever being healed? Had he heard stories of the carpenter from Nazareth? Was that why his family had brought him here? Were they hoping He might return and have mercy on this lame loved one of theirs?
This lame man, was he content with his life circumstance? Was he bitter? Had he lost faith in God for leaving him like this or was his faith still alive? 'Yesterday' those were the questions surrounding his life. 'Today' everything is different. Today he is walking but in chains. Yesterday he was restrained by a body that didn't work. Now he is restrained by the Church he was raised by and taught to believe in. His crime? He was healed. Imagine the emotional roller coaster he was on. Imagine the sense of "this can't be happening".
Perhaps he well knew about the war between the Church and the followers of the Carpenter. Perhaps he overheard the whispered conversations that took place in the temple courtyard about the upheaval in Jerusalem between the establishment and 'the followers of the Way'.
Now he has been thrust into the thick of it. He has new legs but can't run. He has been freed from a broken body only to be trapped by a hostile angry Church.
He has met a lot of people. He has seen a lot of faces. Mostly he has seen faces that quickly turn and pretend they don't see him. What he had never seen was the love and intensity in the eyes of Peter when Peter said "Look at us."
That same intensity was still very much in him as the council threatened him never to speak in His name again.
He watched in awe. He didn't fully understand what was happening. He didn't know the Source of Peter's passion but he knew he wanted to. He could write a book already with the stories Peter and John had shared with him in the prison the night before about this man they called Jesus. He knew whatever happened today his life would never be the same. He also knew that no matter what this angry desperate council did there was no way Peter was going to stop. That much was obvious.
"Jesus. There is just something about that Name and I want to find out so much more. No matter what my Church says I will follow wherever His Name leads me. He gave me my legs and I will give Him my life."