Sapphira and Ananias: A Short Story About Dropping Down Dead in Your Tracks

“Did you see how they received the gift from Barnabas?” She hung her shawl on the peg and closed the door behind her husband as he followed her in from the street.

“He’s one of their favorites, Sapphira. Always trying to get their attention with his ‘good deeds.’” Ananias, she knew from long experience, let cynicism rule over his judgment.

“Why don’t the Apostles notice you, Ananais?” She thought to placate his mood by adding, “You’re as important as he is.”

She placed a goblet of wine in his hand as he sat on a stool by the window, looking back up the street.

“I have an idea in mind. Do you know that property by the lower pool?” Ananais pulled his gaze from the street and looked at his wife. “We should sell it.”

“Sell? Why?”

“To give the money to the Apostles.” He drained the cup and held it up for her to refill.

“We can’t afford to give them all that money.” Sapphira raised the pitcher and poured wine into his cup.

“Who said anything about giving them all the money?”

He raised his cup higher in a gesture of mock salute, causing wine to splash over the cup’s rim onto the floor, staining the tiles red.

“I’ll get something to clean up after you, my husband.”

“Clean up after me?” He looked at the cup. “You filled it too full. Take responsibility for your own mistakes and clean up your mess!”

***

“Poor Ananias,” Atticus said to Timon as the two young men returned from the burial ground.

“You didn’t know him, Atticus.”

“Are you saying he deserved to fall down dead like that? In front of everybody?”

“You heard what Peter said.”

“Yes, he shouldn’t have kept back some of the money for himself.

“It’s not about the money. The man lied to the Holy Spirit.”

“I am new to The Way, Timon, and am just learning about the Spirit. Tell me what you know.”

“Tell you what I know? That would take more time than we have, my friend. The day is getting late, but I’ll tell you what I can.”

They leaned together against the wall near the door leading into the room where the apostles met. People passed by inches from them, moving up and down the narrow street.

“The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Jesus said, and I have found great comfort from the ministry of the Spirit within me. Like you, I am a Hellenist who came to Jerusalem as a pilgrim and chose to stay here far from home.”

“You find being here hard, too?”

“Hard? Sometimes I’m so homesick I can cry. I do cry.”

“No, you?”

“Believe it. But I find comfort in knowing our sisters and brothers here have welcomed me, and I find the Spirit works in me with a greater peace than I have ever had before.”

“But if the Spirit is a source of peace and comfort, why did Ananias have to die?”

“That is something I can’t explain, Atticus. All I know is that Jesus also said that blasphemy against the Spirit is a serious matter, more serious than any I can think of. Jesus told his followers it’s unforgiveable.”

“Unforgiveable. Do you think Ananais died because he blasphemed the Spirit and couldn’t be forgiven?”

“Another thing I can’t explain. I wonder at the timing, though.”

“You question God’s timing?”

“Not question it. Wonder at it. There’s a difference.” Timon turned to lean on his shoulder, allowing him to look his friend in the eye. “I wonder if God knew that Ananias’s lies were overtaking him and he needed to be saved from them.”

“From them?”

“I’ve known Ananais since I moved here. He has always been a hard man who took pride in his possessions. He never comprehended that the Apostles are not impressed by worldly wealth. They treasure the riches of God’s kingdom. And I fear his choices were poisoning his wife as well.”

“Ananias was a rich enough man, from what I’ve heard,” Atticus said.

“He worked hard to earn his wealth, I will give him that. But now what good is it doing him? He’s dead and buried.”

“And we’re the ones who buried him,” Atticus said as he pushed himself off the wall and stretched his back. “What do you mean about being saved from his lies?”

“I think sometimes God gives his people opportunities to learn, and when they don’t he chooses to save them from themselves. In Ananias’s case, perhaps to save Sapphira. I fear he’d poisoned her with his grasping avarice and desire for recognition. Death is sometimes better than such a life.”

“Speaking of Sapphira,” Atticus said as he pointed up the street with his chin. “Do you think she’s heard?”

“It’s not our place to tell her.”

She reached the doorway by the two men.

“Tell me what, Timon? Oh, never mind. Is Peter inside? I think Ananais spoke to him earlier.”

Atticus gave a slight, almost imperceptible, nod while Timon opened the door. She walked inside as they lingered in the doorway and stared at her retreating back. Her richly ornamented robe swept the floor while she passed along to the room the Apostles used.

Timon sighed deeply.

“Let us hope it is not too late for her.”

***

For the historical text this dialog is imagined from, see Acts 5:1-11.

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1 Response to Sapphira and Ananias: A Short Story About Dropping Down Dead in Your Tracks

  1. Love how you forced me to go back to the text to fact-check. My memory had wrongly morphed to thinking the couple died together. I completely missed the 3-hour spread. And man, they buried the husband with speed and stealth. Did they fear an infectious desease?
    How interesting.

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