WHEN EUTYCHUS FELL
""Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus,
who was sinking into a deep sleep
as Paul talked on and on." Acts 20:9
"I felt all sick and shaky. I just couldn't go to the window to look.
He fell straight out." Julius hung his head.
All ears, I watched his face eagerly for the details. Finally, his expression
changed. A slow smile formed as he looked up and into my eyes. "But
God was there," he said. After a pause he added, "It was amazing."
I had chanced upon Julius while walking along Market Street in the urban
district. Running into my old school friend seemed more than just a lucky
break. It was only a few days after the great man Paul had left the city,
and all Troas was buzzing about what had happened. I wanted to know if it
were really true. Some said it was a hoax. I guess I didn't know what
"Look. Here is a bench. Tell me everything," I demanded. "I
know you're in a hurry, but please. I want to hear. You're a close friend
of Eutychus, aren't you?"
"Euty and I are very good friends," Julius replied. "And
yes, I'm in a hurry. But we can sit for a few minutes, if you insist."
We sat down and I listened to his story.
"Eutychus and I arrived late at the meeting. They were already in the
upper room. Euty wasn't that interested in staying, so we stood in the back...
to be less conspicuous if we wanted to leave."
"I hear it was quite a long meeting," I said. "What was this
fellow Paul talking about?"
"They say he is an apostle. A sent one from God. And it's true. He
came to us with a message from God," Julius said.
"So what did he say, then?"
"Julius got red-faced and looked away for a moment. "I'm ashamed
to admit it, but I really wasn't paying that much attention at that point.
I had a lot on my mind." He tilted his head and turned to look me in
the eye. "But God got through to me. I'll never be the same."
The wind blowing in off the Dardenelles ruffled my former classmate's woolly
hair. He was a tall, well-built youth, with prominent, clever-looking, clear
eyes. His sand colored toga, neatly knotted over the right shoulder, was
spotless. Before continuing, he took a deep breath and blinked thoughtfully
two or three times.
"It happened around midnight. Eutychus - " Julius, gripping the
bench with his hands and nodding, said, "You know that Eutychus means
"Yes," I said.
"He was supposedly still-born at birth. Somehow he came to life and
his mother gave him that name, Fortunate. Now he is twice fortunate. And
twice born!" Julius threw up his hands and grinned. "And I am,
too. Twice born, that is."
To me, his animated expressions were a curiosity and I was almost embarrassed
for him. Hardly a Stoic, I thought to myself. Finally he went on
with his story.
"Well, because everyone was caught up in Paul's preaching, they didn't
notice that Eutychus was nodding off. I guess I had seen that he
was drifting into slumberland, but it didn't occur to me to shake him out
of it. So the whole thing was really my fault, you see. He was sitting in
the window." Julius leaned back, biting his lip. He looked past me
as if he were trying to locate someone he knew. Then he turned his attention
back to me.
"Had he been leaning forward it would have been different. As soon
as he started going, I knew no one was going to grab him. I lunged, but
there was a guy in my way. It sent chills right through me. We were three
flights up and it was a straight drop.
"A lady screamed and an old man fainted, and the preaching stopped.
People in the back of the room poured out the door and rushed down to see
how badly he was hurt. But I couldn't go down. I didn't think I could handle
"A woman began to wail, and I heard the shout from below, 'He's dead!'
and I went to pieces. I could have kept him from falling. I was totally
crushed. I could hardly breathe, and I began to be sick."
Julius anticipated my skepticism.
"If you have any doubts, ask the blacksmith's wife. She was there.
She will tell you how they found him. He was dead."
"Maybe he just had the wind knocked out of him," I said.
"He was dead," Julius countered. "The man who owns the bakery
knows better than any of us what dead means. He fought in the last war,
you know. He has seen many dead men. The man told me himself only yesterday."
Julius looked past me again, then turned aside. He watched two small boys
chasing each other in the plaza, allowing my eyes to study him. Though I
knew him from school, somehow he had changed. Turning back to me, he continued
"Suddenly, everything in the room was different. I looked up, and people
were happy. It didn't make sense. Then I saw Eutychus walk in. I thought
I must be dreaming. I simply couldn't believe my eyes. I saw him fall right
out that window, and I heard them say he was dead. And then he walks in,
all happy and everything, hugging people and people are laughing and crying
and all. I just couldn't believe it. I was numb.
"The next thing I remember, I was clawing through the crowd to reach
him. 'Eutychus! Eutychus!' I said. I could hardly walk, my knees were so
wobbly. Then we were hugging, crying and laughing, and I kept muttering
'I can't believe it. I can't believe it.' But it was real. It was true.
"Then the little man with the bent nose got up in front again, that
is, this man Paul. 'Tell us more about your Jesus,' someone called out.
'Please, tell us more about the ways of God,' another cried. Others shouted
"And the man spread his arms, hushing the crowd with the gesture, and
he began to speak, of the beauty of his Lord Jesus, of the power of Jesus,
of the mercy of his Savior, and many other wonderful and amazing things.
His heart overflowed, and we drank it in, for we had seen the hand of God
do a mighty work there in our midst.
"When morning came, as this man appeared to be closing, I wanted to
cry out, 'No, please. Don't go. Stay with us.' But he said something more
"Paul said, 'You know I can't stay. But Jesus, He will stay with you.'
I held my breath, to catch and hold every word. Paul glanced over toward
Eutychus. 'As this Fortunate One has been raised from death, so Jesus has
conquered death. Though I must leave you, Jesus will never leave you. Seek
Him and you will find Him, if you seek with all your heart.'"
Julius closed his lips, apparently finished, and we communed in silence.
It was a warm silence, a silence that seemed to take me out of myself; an
inviting silence that seemed an extension of Julius himself.
Then, his face took a curious expression. "Are you crying?" he
"Please," I whispered, "tell me more."
copyright 1984 ed newman
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