Maybe Uncle Eli had dropped him a little roughly today but Samuel was always glad that someone carried him to the gate. He settled himself into his familiar spot, anxious for his day to begin.
Behind him, the doors of the gate rose majestically. It took several men to push wide the gigantic gates and Samuel always marveled at the ornate bronze plating illuminating the wood. These were beautiful gates and he knew that many people would soon be making their way through them into the temple.
Samuel had never seen inner part of the temple, although he often tried to imagine it. He’d understood all his life that he’d never go in. His legs were crippled at birth, making him unclean. He could never enter the temple to worship. His focus was always to learn his trade well.
“Alms!” he cried out suddenly as a cluster of people approached. Jews, he knew, were encouraged to give to the poor as part of their worship. And he heard the sound of coins clattering into his basket.
The sun was shining brightly, warming Samuel. He pushed his limp legs out to make his uncleanness even more evident.
He saw two men approaching the gate. “Alms for the poor!” he called out.
Then he heard a strong voice: “Look at us.” Samuel was confused, for he knew his uncleanness was repulsive to most. The people ignored him, tossing in a coin to meet their worship duty, before marching into the temple courts. He had learned to keep his eyes down.
“We have no gold or silver,” the man said to him. Samuel glanced at the second man and then back to the first. Why was this man addressing Samuel if he had no alms?
“But what I have, I give to you.” He strode to Samuel’s side and extended his hand. When Samuel gripped his hand, the man lifted him to his feet. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Fear shook Samuel but then he realized that he was standing. His legs were no longer weak. He took a step.
“What…” Samuel couldn’t speak for a moment. And then the reality of these muscular legs filled him. He tested them. He walked, ran, jumped. They worked.
But suddenly a greater reality hit him. He could enter the temple now. He was no longer unclean.
Walking and leaping and praising God, he joined the two men in the temple to worship.
He didn’t understand fully, but he knew that this Jesus Christ had removed his uncleanness so that he could go into the presence of God.
For Samuel, the worship had only begun.