We are preaching through Acts at the moment and next week I will be looking at Acts chapter 9. There are, however, two parts to it. One describes Saul’s conversion and early Christian life. The second is about how Peter heals one person and resurrects another. I think I will probably preach on the first part as it is most applicable to our series title and emphasis “Inside out”. I will look at how Paul was changed on the inside and how that that lead to a changed life on the outside. It has also been said that Paul’s conversion is the most important post-Pentecost event in the history of Christianity so to miss it out would be a crime.
The thing is, I just can’t not look at the second part. I will, therefore, blog briefly about it and get it out of my system, or rather into my system, so that I can focus on the first part and do that justice. You can hear my preach of it here (It’s called Damascus Road experience”.
Peter was travelling about “among them all”. Going from church to church it seems. Probably teaching, but also healing.
He “found” a man who was bedridden. Now it may not be there, but I wonder if he actively looked for people to heal. I would have thought you would if you knew Jesus was going to heal them. In Mozambique, Heidi Baker actively looks for people who are blind or deaf so that God can heal them and open the people in a village up to the gospel.
Anyway, this man had been bedridden for 8 years. That’s a long time. He was clearly not well at all. In fact he was paralysed.
Peter says to him “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed”. That’s a massive thing to say. “Jesus Christ heals you”. How do you begin to say something like that? You have to have massive confidence to say that. I am getting used to exerting authority to heal by saying “pain go in the name of Jesus”, or “be healed”, but surely this is another level of confidence on display here. Peter tells the man to “get up and roll up your mat”. He is doing the exact same thing that Jesus did for the paralytic that was lowered down to him through the roof in Matthew 9.
The man gets up and everyone “turned to the Lord”. Healing, it seems, is a very effective means of evangelism.
Now 10 miles way in Joppa a lady gets ill and dies. When this happens her friends go and get Peter. Why? Obviously, because they think he can do something about it. It seems that Peter was known as someone who did the things that Jesus did. It also seems that not everyone was moving in such powerful anointing.
Every Christian can help others: give generously, encourage people with what they feel God is saying, teach and pray for healing. Not every Christian though has a clear gift of helping, giving, prophecy, teaching or healing. We can all do these activities, it’s just that some will do so in such a significant way that they are known for it. If someone is sick, are there people you know to call? It’s not a lack of faith to go and get someone else. Far from it. I’m sure the disciples at Joppa prayed for this lady but when they had no success they didn’t conclude that God did not want to heal or raise her from the dead. Rather they recognised that the Holy Spirit gives different ones different gifts and in different measures, and called Peter.
So what does Peter do when he gets there. He sends them all out of the room. Just like Jesus did in Matthew 9:24. Why is that? I don’t know for sure but it might have been so that he could pray. He needed to speak to God. This was not a situation that he “found”, it was one that “found” him. Can you imagine the pressure. “Peter, it’s so great you are here, now you can raise this woman back to life”. He needs some space alone with God. Will God do this? Could he do it through him?
He gets on his knees. Your body language matters when it comes to praying. Not that there is any specific pose we must adopt, rather we will inevitably express ourselves through our body as well as our words. Our body is linked to our heart just as much as our tongues. So Peter kneels before his Lord. Did he ask God if he would raise her? Did he, like Jesus, thank God that he hears him. I don’t know. My best guess is that he needed to do this one with his Lord especially close to him. Perhaps he said “Lord, I am out of my depth. Help me”. Perhaps God said to him “Go on, tell her to get up”. In any case, after praying he does just that and amazingly it works!
Once again many people believe on the back of this amazing miracle.
Well, I feel a bit better now and will look at Paul’s conversion.