It involved an incident that unfolded in the life of the famed evangelist, John Wesley, who lived from 1703-1791. It seems that Wesley was returning home from a service one night, when he was ignominiously held up and robbed. The thief, however, soon found that his victim had only a little money and some printed Christian literature on his person.
Frustrated, the bandit prepared to slip away into the night. But, to his surprise, just as he was leaving, Wesley called out and said, “Stop! I have something more to give you.” The surprised robber paused. “My friend,” said Wesley, “you may live to regret this sort of life. If you ever do, here’s something to remember: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!’”
At this, the astonished thief turned and hurried away into the darkness. He left John Wesley alone, praying that the words he had thrust upon the man’s ears might bear fruit.
That prayer was answered. Fast forward several years later, to a day in the future when Wesley was greeting people after a Sunday service. He was approached by a stranger who now surprised him - even as he had once surprised that very same stranger.
The man, now a believer in Christ and a very successful businessman, was the very same individual who had robbed Wesley years before! “I owe it all to you,” said the transformed man. “Oh no, my friend,” Wesley exclaimed, “not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin!”
I love this little story. As a Minister of the Gospel, John Wesley has always been somewhat of a hero of mine. I remember to this day having first read of him - of his life and ministry and writings - while I was a student in Seminary. He was a key figure in American church history in general and of the first Great Awakening in particular.
But as important a person as he is considered to have been, Wesley knew in his heart that the only real significance he had was as one who represented his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and pointed others to Him.
The New Testament Book of Acts (in chapter 3, verses 1-10) records an incident in the life of the Apostle Peter that was somewhat similar to that experienced by Wesley:
1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now 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. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The most important thing we can ever offer to anyone is the power of the Gospel! May those of us who have received this power ourselves always be faithful to share it with others when and where we are given the opportunity to do so.
SOURCE: Our Daily Bread, October 1, 1994.
ALSO AVAILABLE ONLINE: Cf.: https://bible.org/illustration/power-change-lives.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: https://biblehub.com/niv/acts/3.htm.