Read - Acts 9v32-43
Message - Scott Woodburn
As chapter nine comes to a close the scene suddenly shifts away from the zealous new convert Saul and returns our gaze to the familiar figure of Peter. The Apostle finds himself heading north from Jerusalem to the mixed town (Jew & Gentile) of Lydda. There he meets a paralyzed man called Aeneas who has been confined to bed for eight years (v33). Peter has lost none of his God given power and tells Aeneas that Christ has healed him and he is to rise and make his bed (v34). The healing of Aeneas amazes the residents of Lydda and Sharon and many trust in Christ (v35).
Quickly however the scene shifts once more to Joppa, a town further to the north and on the coast. Joppa was another mixed town with an even bigger Gentile population. In Joppa a Christian lady by the name of Tabitha (or Dorcas in Greek) had died (v37). Those in the church knew Peter was in the nearby town of Lydda and so sent for him to come without delay (v38). He arrived to find the body of Tabitha in the upper room with many weeping over her loss (v39). Putting the mourners outside, Peter knelt in prayer before commanding Tabitha to rise (v40). Her eyes opened and seeing Peter she sat up and he presented her alive and well to those who previously were weeping (v41). Once more the dramatic news spread around Joppa and many came to know Christ (v42).
The raising of the dead should not be glossed over. In the New Testament Jesus raises three people from the dead, Paul one and Peter one. Many claim such power today and treat such an event as something common that should happen "if only we have enough faith.". I humbly disagree. Peter ministers in power but does not point to himself. Peter tells Aeneas "Jesus Christ heals you" (v34). Once more the Gospel of Christ is accompanied and confirmed by signs and wonders enabled by Christ Himself.
Aeneas climbs from his sickbed and Tabitha climbs from her deathbed preparing the way for the Gospel to make its way into the Gentile world. Soon Peter will have his rooftop vision and sooner still, he will meet a Gentile by the name of Cornelius as the bringing in of the Gentiles begins. To prepare the way the Lord uses His servant to do miraculous acts. The Gospel is true and even the Gentiles will believe and the dividing wall of hostility will be removed (Ephesians 2v14).
As if to prepare us for what is to come in Acts, Luke tells us that Peter stays with a man called Simon who was a tanner by trade (v43). Such a man would have dealt in the bodies of dead animals and as such tanning would have been considered an unclean profession by a devout Jew. It appears that Peter didn't mind, he rests in Simon's home for many days and soon will boldly take the Gospel to places it has never been before.
The reality is, all are unclean before a Holy God. Our sins are many and yet just one of them deserves the wrath of God. Our only hope is the Gospel of Christ which came first to the Jew but now also to the Gentile. Sinners from various backgrounds are made clean by the blood of the Lamb!
Q9 What is the work of creation? The work of creation is, God’ s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.