When Eutychus Fell
“Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus… sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on.” — Acts 20:9 (NIV)
“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 was really true. Some said it was a hoax. I guess I didn’t know what to believe.
“Look. Here’s 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 at the meeting late. 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 fortunate, right?”
“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 it.
“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 again.
“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 similar things.
“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 wonderful still.
“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 said.
“Please,” I whispered, “tell me more.”
When Eutychus Fell is an imagined retelling of an incident that was recorded in the Book of Acts. Originally published at ennyman.com.
Re-published in The War Cry.