Averting our Eyes
‘Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said “Look at us”’.
We can’t change life. We can move around, put ourselves in different places, or vary our circumstances. But we can’t make our lives into something heavenly. And the fact that we can’t – that we can’t root out our imperfections – is demeaning to us as human beings.
So demeaning that, sometimes, it’s even hard to look at one another.
The beggar doesn’t even want to look at Peter and John, potential benefactors. You’ve seen how beggars will avert their eyes and not look at you. And maybe you’ve averted your eyes and not looked at them. Neither of you wants to look at the other. Why not?
Because it’s demeaning both for the miserable person, and for the person who must look at the miserable person.
Recently, a Christian brother in his thirties said to me:
‘I have so many illnesses right now and am in so much pain and my friends don’t know what to do with me . . . don’t want to visit me . . . don’t want to know about it.’
When we can’t solve the problems of life, we turn away from them. We avert our eyes. Anything else is just too demeaning.
But not for the follower of Christ:
‘And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And the beggar fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.
‘Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.’
Peter was saying: Money? Don’t have it. But it wouldn’t do you much good, not lasting good. But what we have will change you – will change your life, will cure your weariness, and it will do so immediately.
Has this ever happened to you? Immediate change – from despair to contentment, from fear to faith, from discouragement to joy, from dying to living?
This sort of change, immediate change in our lives, is precisely what Jesus of Nazareth came to provide us. It’s what the book of Acts is all about. It’s about resurrection – as big a change as there can be – from death to life. It’s what happened to Jesus – resurrection – and because it did, it can happen to you too.
A lame man walks – we walk – because a crucified man was resurrected from the dead.