The Power of Seeing

When [a man who had been lame since birth] saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give to you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” …And immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.”

-Acts 3:3-7

Money has the power.

The power to purchase food and upkeep shelter. The power to pay for medical treatment. The power to control other people’s tasks and time and attention. The power to build up and to tear down. Money has the power. Or, maybe: the people with money have the power.

The unnamed man in this story from the Book of Acts – the man who has never been able to walk – is hoping people will toss just a few scraps of power his way. Every day people would lay him in front of one of the entrances to the Temple, so that he could beg from the people going in to worship.

When the apostles Peter and John walk by, and they actually stop and make eye contact and speak to him, the man hopes they will toss a little power his way, a few coins to help him survive another day. (Does any of that feel familiar?)

But Peter and John don’t give him money; instead, they create a moment of connection, a moment where these three men take the time to really see each other (“Look at us,” Peter says). And suddenly money doesn’t have the power anymore. Suddenly the whole system is broken open, and what comes pouring out of that break is relationship and healing. 

It’s easy (maybe too easy) to read miracle stories as unique events, as one-off Great Acts of God. But a miracle is not a magic trick. A miracle is a revelation. A miracle shows us where the real power always lies. And that revelation remains true, whether or not we can change things with one quick word.

There is power in connection. There is power in looking intently at each other, in seeing each other. There is power in demanding to be seen.

And while the power of money is real, the power of connection is more fundamental. It is a power we feel directly in our bodies and our spirits. It is a power that works regardless of our circumstances. The power of connection is even subversive. (How dare we have relationships that aren’t transactional? How dare we care for things that have no price?) The miracle itself is made possible by the apostles’ connection with Jesus.

There are two necessary moves in this miracle story: to notice, and to be noticed. Both parties demand to be noticed, to be seen: the man who is lame is intentionally placed at the busy gate; the apostles say: “Look at us.” And, both parties notice the other. In the midst of this mustual seeing, God heals, God brings a new way forward that would not have been possible in an interaction that was siloed, that was purely transactional.

Where do you need to be seen?

Where do you need to look at others?

– Pastor Kate

Rev. Katherine Museus and Rev. James A. Wetzstein serve as university pastors at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University and take turns writing weekly devotions.

April 10, 2024