Monday, March 25, 2013

Beyond A Gate Called Beautiful

My favorite gospel is undoubtedly Mark, because of its narrative structure and the author's knack for understatement. However, I came across a line from the book of Acts, chapter 3 that stuck out to me.
1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.
At the Temple Gate called Beautiful. I wonder what was going through Luke's mind when this was written, or when someone told him this story. Imagine Luke hearing this from an eyewitness, or from Saint Peter over drinks.

"Where did this miraculous experience happen?"

"Y'know, by the temple gate called beautiful."

I do doubt that was the gate's title, but being as Luke is fond of this type of rhetoric, I love it. But imagine this dusty outsider, stuck outside the temple, carried so close and yet removed so far.

In some ways, I wonder if this beggar was closer to God than he realized. He likely didn't know of propitiation or hell or whatever went on in the temple beyond the gate. What is more likely, this was a curse from God upon him. In a way, people carrying him that far were doing him a favor that was unnecessary. God had cursed him from birth.

There was nothing more to be done for him, but to leave him outside God's presence.

Peter didn't give the man his legs or even a sense of renewal. In fact, I do wonder if Peter had simply plucked the beggar from the ground and carried him beyond the beautiful gate if Peter would've achieved something marvelous.

But why stop at marvelous when you can have something truly unique and beautiful?

The man was not only given physical healing, but a true sense of wholeness. He was seen as included to be ushered into God's presence. Image that, being on the outside, hearing whispers about your confessions to YHWH, but being cascaded outside beyond stone and silk.

The beggar probably begged again, but he doubtlessly never begged for YHWH to be near him.


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