THE MIRACULOUS HEALING MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST OPENS THE DOOR FOR GOSPEL PENETRATION
TWO EXAMPLES OF CHURCH GROWTH AS THE GOSPEL CONTINUED TO IMPACT THE REMOTE CITIES OF JUDEA
In the case of the early church we are going to see the effects of the miraculous healing ministry of Jesus Christ in terms of physical healings. In our times we want to think of the same effects that the healing ministry of Jesus Christ can have in a spiritual sense. As Jesus transforms lives, there should be corresponding opportunities for gospel penetration into new hearts. Jesus is alive today and impacting the lives of people – radically transforming them just as he did physically in using Peter in these two different cities. Change is possible – Don’t give up and think that things have to remain the way they are today in your life ….
We are going to see in this passage how Peter imitates the ministry of his Master – being used to perform 2 dramatic miracles that remind us of the miracles of Christ; remember these Acts of the Apostles are still Acts performed by the resurrected Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit
Stott: shows parallel between these 2 miracles and those performed by Jesus (following in prophetic tradition of Elijah and Elisha – 1 Kings 17) – Aeneas is reminiscent of that other paralytic, who lived in Capernaum. As Jesus had said to him, “Get up, take your mat and go home,” so Peter said to Aeneas, “Get up and tidy up your mat” (34). And the raising of Tabitha recalls the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Because the people were weeping noisily, Peter “sent them all out of the room”, just as Jesus had done. Further, the words spoken to the dead person were almost identical. Indeed . . . if Peter spoke Aramaic on this occasion, only a single letter would have been different, for Jesus had said Talitha koum!, whereas Peter would have said Tabitha koum!.
Switch in focus – putting Paul aside for a few chapters to concentrate on Peter’s ministry; you have the conversion of the Apostle to the Gentiles and then the conversion of the first Gentile; the ministry of Peter in the maritime plain of Palestine – why this focus geographically here?
– Concluding ministry to the Jews in the region around Jerusalem and Palestine?
– Setting the stage for the conversion of Cornelius and taking the gospel to the Gentiles?
Some type of transition is in view here – Remember Peter was given the keys of the kingdom – opening new people groups up to the privilege and reality of entrance into the kingdom in this new dispensation – where entrance into the kingdom involves being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ – the church – Day of Pentecost; Acts 8 – Philip’s preaching in Samaria – but Peter called to come pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit
Remember overall theme of Acts which is to document the spread of the gospel and the growth of the early NT church
THE MIRACULOUS HEALING MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST OPENS THE DOOR FOR GOSPEL PENETRATION
TWO EXAMPLES OF CHURCH GROWTH AS THE GOSPEL CONTINUED TO IMPACT THE CITIES OF JUDEA
I. (:32-35) CHURCH GROWTH IN LYDDA AND SHARON — AENEAS HEALED
(Compare Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26 – Healing of the Paralytic)
A. Sovereign Appointment – Occasion for the Healing
“Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas”
Stott: Peter is introduced as engaged in an itinerant ministry . . . Previously, when persecution had broken out, the apostles had deemed it prudent to remain in Jerusalem (8:1b). Now that the church was enjoying a time of peace (31), however, they felt free to leave the city. Peter’s purpose was not only to preach the gospel, but also to visit the saints (32b), in order to teach and encourage them.
Think of the sacrifice involved in an itinerant ministry – one that was modeled after the life of Christ who said that even foxes had their own den to go back to in the evenings, but the Son of Man owned no home for comfort and security – no place to lay his head other than what the Father providentially provided each night
Church planted by gospel witness from those who had been at Jerusalem for Pentecost as well as those who had fled because of persecution; some contact from Philip the evangelist as well
Guzik: Acts 9:32 and 41 mention the saints in Lydda and Joppa; this is the first time Christians are called saints in Acts. When the Bible calls Christians saints, the idea isn’t of a super-perfect people; the idea is of a people who are different. Saints are set apart from the world at large; they are distinctive.
How did we live this past week in a way that was different?? How did we demonstrate that we are saints??
Lydda: Largely a Gentile city about 25 miles NW from Jerusalem; day’s journey by foot from Joppa; Intersection of highways from Egypt to Syria and from Jerusalem to the coast
Aeneas was probably a Hellenistic Jew (since big deal is made about Cornelius in terms of bringing the gospel to the Gentiles) and possibly saved (since Peter is visiting the saints specifically – not just the city as a whole) or more probably not saved (since he is called merely a certain man rather than a disciple and the parallel miracle of Christ related to saving a man from his sins)
Application: Peter was available for whatever sovereign appointments the Master might have for the purpose of ministry
Are you available for sovereign ministry appointments?
B. Severe Affliction – Obstacles to the Healing
“who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed.”
What a pitiful existence – no modern medical aids like wheelchairs to help him get around; no entertainment diversions to help him pass the monotonous time – like TV and movies on DVR; just day after day living without hope of any change; should stir compassion in our hearts – but usually leads to avoidance – let’s not think about people in this type of sorry state
Yet remember the compassion and tender mercy of the Great Physician; the Good Shepherd who would stop to minister to such ones; not viewing them as an inconvenient interruption to his more important ministries
Wiersbe: burden to himself and others with no prospects of being healed
Stedman: Here we have a paralysis of the body. For eight years it held this man impotent, unable to fulfill life as God intended human life to be lived. He was paralyzed; he could not move. That can happen to the spirit as well. In fact it does happen to many. It very likely has happened to some of you here this morning. Some of you are suffering from paralysis of the will, from paralysis of the spirit. There are things you have been wanting to do, knowing that you ought to do them. For years you have been saying, “Oh, I wish I could do that. I’d like to. Someday I want to do it.” But you never have. You are suffering from paralysis of the will because you are looking to your own resources. You are expecting that somehow you will get some new sensation or feeling and when you feel motivated then you will do it.
Do you understand the reality of Total Depravity?
C. Supernatural Authority – Ordering of the Healing – Healing of the Body
“Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.’ Immediately he got up.”
Peter not a faith healer after the order of charlatans of the modern day – ministry conducted in submission to the power of Jesus Christ and His sovereign disposition
Illustration: Faith-healer A. A. Allen came through West Virginia with his traveling show, which included jars containing bodies that Allen said were demons he had exorcised from sick people. (Skeptics said they were frogs.) At Wheeling, Allen vanished—and later was found dead of alcoholism in a San Francisco hotel room, his pockets crammed with cash. Marjoe Gortner, the sometime boy evangelist, wrote that Allen advised him how to tell when a revival was over: “When you can turn people on their head and shake them and no money falls out, then you know God’s saying, ‘Move on, son.’”
Key point: healings were not in response to the faith of the individuals involved
Chan Wei Guan: All the biblical evidence points to the fact that God’s healing is not dependent upon the faith of those who were healed. By this, I do not mean that none of these people exercised faith in trusting Jesus’ ability to heal. On the contrary, many in fact did believe that Jesus could heal and the successful healing by Christ eventually led them to believe that Jesus is the Christ – He is God. However, the Bible did not make it a requirement that God must heal when the sick exercised faith by trusting Him.
Purposes of divine healing:
a) God heals that He may be glorified.
b) God heals that His messengers and messages may be authenticated.
c) God heals that He may convict men of their sinfulness.
Peter directed all of the focus to the person of Jesus Christ – not to himself
Once again the healing was instantaneous and complete and sustained
The healing led to the activity of assuming one’s personal responsibilities
Do you believe in the power of Jesus Christ to save and change lives?
D. Salvation Acceptance – Objective of the Healing
“And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”
Man was not healed just so he could enjoy a new and healthy life; his healing was designed to impact a wide range of people for the glory of God; creating a people movement of new allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ
Stott: referencing Calvin – when Scripture mentions all, it is not embracing, to a man, the whole of whatever it is describing, but uses “all” for many, for the majority, or for a crowd of people.
Toussaint: Three times in Acts, Luke used the words turned to the Lord to refer to salvation (9:35; 11:21; 15:19)
You cannot genuinely believe without turning from sin in repentance to live a life of faith in the Lord Jesus; you become a follower, a disciple
Don’t tell me you want to become a Christian but you do not want to turn away from your sin
The harvest is ripe with people who are ready to turn to the Lord – we need to reach them with the gospel message that has the power to radically transform their lives just as the Lord was able to physically heal this paralytic – turned him into a walking, running, hopping up and down enthusiastic witness to the living reality of the power of Jesus Christ
II. (:36-43) CHURCH GROWTH IN JOPPA — DORCAS RESTORED TO LIFE
(Compare Mark 5:34-43; Luke 8:54-55)
A. (:36, 38-39a) Sovereign Appointment – Occasion for the Healing
“Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”
“Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, ‘Do not delay in coming to us.’ So Peter arose and went with them.”
Wiersbe: Joppa located on the seacoast about 10 miles from Lydda; it is the place from which the prophet Jonah embarked when he tried to flee from God (Jonah 1:1-3). Jonah went to Joppa to avoid going to the Gentiles, but Peter in Joppa received his call to go to the Gentiles!
Longenecker: the only natural harbor on the Mediterranean between Egypt and Ptolemais… Its rival in NT times was Caesarea, thirty miles to the north, which Herod the Great, because the people of Joppa hated him, built into a magnificent new port city and provincial capital
Only NT usage of feminine form of word for disciple
Dorcas, gazelle = symbolizing grace and beauty
Lenski: Luke emphasizes the abundance: “full” of good works and alms deeds “which she kept doing” (durative imperfect). She reaped a rich harvest. She did not tire, discouragements were overcome, she continued faithful in her service to the end.
Practical gift of sewing!
B. (:37, 39b) Severe Affliction – Obstacles to the Healing
“And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room.”
“When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.”
Totally unable to help herself – she is dead; no efforts at self improvement; requires the sovereign power of God at work
Constable: When she died, the believers sent to Peter asking him to come. Apparently they expected him to raise her back to life as Jesus had done since they did not bury her but washed and laid her body in an upper room.
C. (:40-41) Supernatural Authority – Ordering of the Healing – Raising of the Dead
“But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.”
Kent: He may not have known God’s will in the matter at first, so he prayed, and we must conclude that the subsequent raising was an answer to prayer.
Same word used in the raising up by God of Jesus in the resurrection
Shows that the source of Peter’s healing power was from the Lord
D. (:42-43) Salvation Acceptance – Objective of the Healing
“It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.”
Kent: Jews felt an abhorrence for members of the tanning trades. Such workmen handled skins from ceremonially unclean animals, and were thus regarded as Levitically impure. Tanners usually resided outside of town to be near sufficient water and also because their operations were so malodorous. Peter’s disregard of Jewish scruples in this instance may indicate his broadening outlook, and is an interesting preface to the events of Acts 10.
Ron Rasmussen: Messengers carried the message, but the main focus was not the messengers. Miracles confirmed the message, but the main focus was not the miracles. Ministry conveyed the message, but it was not primarily about the ministry. It’s all about the message!
– Are you available for sovereign ministry appointments?
– Do you understand the reality of Total Depravity?
– Do you believe in the power of Jesus Christ to save and change lives?