There he sits, loathsome and sickening living the most sordid life possible. A paralytic, he blames his condition on being the son of sinner parents. His mind is corrupted by the anguish of his daily life. Miserable, despised, unworthy, he depends upon those who pass by each day as they make their way to the magnificent temple in Jerusalem to worship God.
He prefers to sit by the Beautiful Gate because there he can collect enough to survive. Each day he repeats the same refrain in a timid voice that is accompanied by incessant tears.
"Be merciful to a poor paraly tic."
"One coin, if you please ..."
Each day is the same. Each day is filled with despair and anguish.
Then one day, everything changes. A fisherman with gray hair and callused hands walks by. With him is a young man with long flowing hair and a trusting smile.
"Look at us" they say, "we have no gold or silver."
The man's eyes fill with tears at the disappointing news.
But the men continue to speak. "We are servants of the most high God and He gave us something superior to gold or silver."
Hope revives in the beggar man.
The words "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazarene—WALK!" are spoken. The man is taken by the right hand and lifted.
Those hardened muscles, those insensible toes and nerves receive a blast of power, warmth, and energy that only Jesus can give. The man stands and walks. His voice can be heard praising the Lord. He, who had for so many years been discriminated against by the scribes, priests and pharisees, now walks into the Temple, rejoicing in what the Lord has done for him.
His joy knows no bounds. He jumps to make it evident that he is healed. His voice sings out in praise. He is jubilant in his gratitude to the Lord.
How many of us today live a life like the beggar? How many of us are sitting outside the temple, begging for the swine's food the worldly society offers? How many of us are entering the church in body only, leaving our minds and hearts outside the temple?
When a child is unruly in church, the parents or deacons may take him outside until he is calmed down. Unfortunately, many adults stay outside, conversing with others and socializing long after the child has calmed down. If cultivated, this is a habit that is difficult to destroy. Better to soothe the child and take him back into church as soon as possible, explaining to the child that God's house is a place of worship and praise, silence and reverence.
What joy God feels when we praise Him with our whole bodies and minds. Though some talk, shout, and clap their hands so loudly they cannot even hear the voice of God because of the tremendous amount of noise they make, others sit indifferently in silence, their apathetic eyes on the preacher and their minds on worldly issues. Paralyzed by spiritual numbness, they do not even sing with their lips, much less their hearts.
God wants to receive our sincere praise. He desires for us to be balanced human beings who praise Him for His blessings. We need not go around jumping in the church as did the healed paralytic, but nothing hinders us from accompanying prayers and saying "Amen" at the right time.
The Lord has been merciful to us. Let us give Him thanksgiving with understanding and balance. Let us praise Him with sincere hearts for the marvels He has done.