Acts // Part 37 - The Healing Of Aeneas

February 10, 2013 Speaker: Phil Baker Series: Acts

Topic: Book Exposition Passage: Acts 9:32–9:35

Introduction

Nearly a year ago we began a teaching series through the book of Acts entitled “You will be My witnesses”. 9 weeks ago we stepped away from it to focus on Christmas, New Years and core things like leadership and membership. This morning we are going to re-engage our series. Before doing so I’d like to refresh our memories a little bit and get us back into the context and storyline. 9 weeks ago we looked at Acts 9:26-31. In that passage we learned that Saul, the former persecutor of the Christian church, had been rejected by the brothers at Jerusalem when he came to them.

For a number of reasons they didn’t believe Saul’s testimony and would not allow him to join their fellowship. But a man named Barnabas was willing to take a chance and met with Saul and became convinced that he was a true convert. Barnabas then presented Saul to the church leaders and they accepted him. Once accepted Saul began to visit his former colleagues at the Hellenistic synagogues to boldly preach gospel. Unfortunately they rejected him and his truth claims. Over the course of 15 days their rejection turned to hatred and then to plots of murder.

When the Jerusalem brothers learned of this they took Saul away to Caesarea and then to Tarsus which was his former homeland. After Saul left the scene Luke wrote that the church experienced a time peace and growth (verse 9:31). In our passage today, beginning with verse 32, Luke shifts the storyline off of Saul onto Peter and then he lists several examples of how the church experienced peace and growth. These examples cover a fairly large section that spans from 9:32-11:26. The examples,

The healing of Aeneas ‘eye-nay-ous’ (9:32-35)The resurrection of Tabitha (9:36-43)The conversion of Cornelius the Roman centurion and many gentiles in Caesarea (10:1-48)The conversion of many Hellenists at Antioch (11:19-26)

This morning we will be focusing on 9:32-35, “The Healing of Aeneas”.

Read

Pray

Examine/Apply

Verse

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.

Commentary

Peter was the leader of the apostles in Jerusalem. Apparently he had been sent to the coastal cities that Philip preached the gospel at to examine the fruit, establish a link between the governing authority of the church (apostles in Jerusalem), and make a report to bring back. Back in Acts 8:40 we learned that Philip preached the gospel in Azotus and in all the other towns up to Caesarea. Philip’s preaching was apparently successful. People were converted. Word of this traveled back to the apostles at Jerusalem and this is why they sent Peter. This is very similar to what happened back in Acts 8:14 where Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem to Samaria to check out and support Philip’s ministry.

As Peter traveled through the region he came to a town called Lydda. Lydda was slightly inland and situated between Azotus and Joppa. These towns were at the southern point of the region known as Philistia which is where the ancient Philistines once lived and ruled. Notice how the text says, the saints who lived at Lydda. There were Christians there. This affirms the effectiveness of Philip’s preaching and reason for Peter being there. Another possibility for how there were Christians there is through the scattering.

Back in 8:1 we saw that the church scattered from Jerusalem throughout the whole region when Saul began his reign of terror and persecution. Some of these “scattered believers” may have settled in Lydda. Whatever the case may be, there were Christians there and Peter was sent by the apostles to examine, link, and report. Look at what happened next in verse 33.

Verse

33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed.

Commentary

While in Lydda Peter came across a paralyzed man named Aeneas. The text says that Aeneas had been bedridden for 8 years. How did Peter cross paths with this guy? Aeneas wasn’t like the lame-beggar that sat at the Beautiful Gate every day. No, he was confined to his bed. He was immobile. It could be that Aeneas was the relative of one of the believers and that is how he got linked to Peter. He may have been uncle Aeneas. Or maybe Aeneas was the neighbor of one of the believers and that’s how he got linked to Peter. It could be that some of the believers knew Aeneas and simply asked Peter to visit him.

Another thing that strikes me is that Peter was there with specific objectives and responsibilities. His mission, as I said, was to examine, establish, and generate a report to bring back to the apostles. But here we see him presented with an opportunity to go hands-on. With an opportunity to do something in addition to what he had come to do.

Opportunities

How often does this happen to us? It happens pretty often to me. I’ve got something in particular that I’m aiming to do and then the phone rings. Or then someone shows up. Or I have to go to the hospital to visit a person. This stuff happens all the time. Life and ministry can be very surprising. I believe that the main cause of this is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always doing more than we can see. He is always at work on multiple levels. He is the “Great Multitasker”. When we engage our tasks and ministry we tend to do it with tunnel vision. We go in with horse blinders on. Our eyes are fixed on the target and they don’t shift off target unless the Holy Spirit puts events or people in the line of fire which forces us to move our eyes.

Life and ministry are like my Windows laptop. I’ll open it up to do something specific but then I’m immediately flooded with a bunch of things that I have to address before I can actually do what I came to do. I want to write a paper. I want to listen to music. I want to search the web. But I can’t because I have to deal with a virus, malware, spy ware, or Facebook. This is a real pain in the caboose. But sudden unforeseen things, additions, and off target stuff is indicative to our lives and ministries. But how often do we call those things a pain in the caboose? How often do we grumble over the people that cause them? How often do we complain about the delays?

“Well I was trying to go here but Sally dropped in and chewed up all my time with all her needs and all her problems and I couldn’t go do what I needed to go do.”

“Well I was on my way to this place and then I got a call to go to the hospital to visit this sick person and that threw off my schedule, my goals, and my mission.”

I’d like to correct and rebuke this type of thinking by submitting to you that people are not a computer virus, malware, or spy ware. They are not distractions to your life and ministry. They are not additional plates in your circus act. On the contrary they have been strategically placed within the chronology of your life and ministry by our omniscient God. Sally showed up at the precise time God planned for her to show up. But you believed that she was a distraction, an addition, a speed bump, and a threat to your schedule and mission. I have to admit that I have thought of people this way. I even have grumbled against them.

I have complained about “pop-up” people messing with my schedule and mission. We’re all probably guilty of this.

Why do we behave like this? We do it because we are self-centered and selfish. We want to do life and ministry on our terms according to our timeline and schedule. And we expect and even command that Holy Spirit show up when we reach our destination and are ready to go. While it is easy for us to acknowledge and proclaim that God has set our goals and called for us to do this or that or to be here or there, it is just as easy for us to dismiss the things that happen in between to be ‘not’ from God. And yet isn’t God the keeper of all time and space? Does God’s presence ‘not’ fill the earth and all the heavens above? Does God ‘not’ know the number of hairs on the heads of 7 billion people?

The chronology of your life has been carefully laid out with every detail and experience, both good and bad. Every event and every person within your chronology has been put there for a reason. We need to realize this and begin to view every pop-up as an opportunity from God to do the will of God, to accomplish His purposes, and be filled with His joy. You may think and feel that pop-up people and events are nothing more than a delay to your life and mission. But Romans 8:28 says (paraphrased), “They are meant for your good and for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes.”

Think about these things,

How many opportunities have you missed because of tunnel vision?

How many opportunities have you missed because of your unwavering commitment to completing ‘only’ the assignment?

How many opportunities have you sacrificed on the altar of personal leisure?

In Lydda, Peter came face to face with an opportunity to either add ministry to his assigned objectives or to reject ministry so that he could do exactly what he came to do. Verse 34 shows us that Peter embraced the opportunity to add ministry to his objectives. It shows us that he cared for pop-up people. It shows us that Peter was flexible and ready to do whatever the Holy Spirit lead him to do at any given moment. Once informed of the situation, Peter did not hesitate to go to where Aeneas lived and stand at his bedside. Look at verse 34.

Verse

34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose.

Commentary

Peter called him by name. He said, “Aeneas”. For whatever reason Peter had to first get Aeneas’ attention. Maybe he was asleep and needed to be woken up? Or maybe Aeneas was distracted because he was in the middle of a pity-party? Maybe he was busy complaining about his predicament to a family member or friend? Or maybe he was just lying there staring at his ceiling? Peter got his attention. Look at what he said next and then what happened,

“Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose.

Take into consideration the following things from the verse:

Peter did not engage Aeneas in conversation.Peter did not ask Aeneas if he’d like to be healed.Peter did not ask Aeneas if he had faith.Peter healed Aeneas in the name of Jesus Christ.Peter told Aeneas to rise (rise = anist�"mi = resurrection).Peter told Aeneas to make his bed.Aeneas said nothing.Aeneas immediately rose.

Let’s look at our last verse, verse 35.

Verse

35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

Commentary

After being healed, Aeneas put himself on display for the glory of God. He may have gone on tour, walking and showing himself to everyone. Or maybe people flooded his home to see him. The text says “all the residents of Lydda and Sharon”. Lots of people saw him. And it says, “they turned to the Lord”. The miracle had a massive effect on Aeneas’ community as well as nearby Sharon. People were blown away to the point of surrendering to Jesus.

I think that the believers may have used the miracle to affirm what they had they had already been gossiping.

Remember, when the church scattered, the believers went about gossiping the gospel. And there’s no doubt that those who were saved through Philip’s preaching were gossiping the gospel too. By the time Peter rolled into town and performed the miracle, the people from Lydda and Sharon were already ripe for the harvest. The miracle became the tipping point.

“We’ve been telling you for the last 3 years that salvation and healing are in the name of Jesus alone. Here is your proof, look at Aeneas. He was confined to a bed for 8 years and now he walks before you!”

Another thing that we must not miss is that there were divine purposes behind the “pop-up” ministry opportunity that Peter was presented with. God had five objectives to accomplish through it.

Miraculously heal Aeneas.Use the miracle to turn many sinners to the Lord Jesus.Add to the church.Encourage and fortify the church by displaying His divine power through the miracle.Bring glory to His name.

Application

In light of these truths how might we begin to look at and respond to the ‘pop-up’ experiences and people that occasionally invade our lives and ministries? Are they nothing more than distractions? Are they nothing more than speed bumps to slow us down? Or could they be divinely appointed opportunities to do the will of God, accomplish His purposes, and be filled with His joy? Another thing to consider is the objectives God has for each of His children. Incredibly, they are the same objectives that I just mentioned.

1. God’s objective was to heal you.

If you are in Christ Jesus then God has healed your tattered unregenerate soul. He saved you. That is a miracle. That is the greatest miracle. Maybe God has also healed you physically. Does He not perform miracles through surgery and medicine?

2. God’s objective is to use the miracles of your spiritual and physical healing to impact the people of this community and beyond.

His objective is to use the gospel and your example to lead sinners to the Lord Jesus. Jesus didn’t save and heal you for only you.

He did so with the purpose of making you salt and light in the world. Do not hide under a basket. Put yourself on display. Gossip the gospel and show others what God has done for you through selfless, generous, charitable, merciful, and holy living.

3. God’s objective is to use you to add to the church.

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

4. God’s objective is to use you to encourage and fortify the church through displaying His transformative power in your life.

The Holy Spirit is in you. He is changing you. He is molding you into the image of Jesus Christ. And God’s objective is to display this miraculous work to other believers so that they can be encouraged, fortified, and built up. This is one of the reasons why we should never forsake the assembly. When you ditch Sunday worship and other events you rob from your brothers and sisters. You are a gift from God to them. And when you ditch you withhold the gift of yourself from them.

What is the greatest gift God ever gave to sinners like you and me? Is it treasure, shelter, possessions, health, or heaven? No, It is Himself in Christ Jesus. He is our greatest possession, He is our greatest inheritance. He is our greatest gift.

How did God show His love for us? He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). How can we show love for our brothers and sisters? We must give ourselves to them. How can we give ourselves to them if we’re not around and present. Calls, cards, emails, and texts only go so far. How can we display the mighty transformative work of the Holy Spirit and build up the church if we are not present? We cannot.

5. God’s objective is to use you to bring glory to His name.

Why did God save wretches like you and me? Did He do it because He loved us? Certainly. Did He do it because He desired to show us mercy? Certainly. Did He do it because He is a good? Absolutely. But those aren’t the only reasons why He saved us. He saved us for His namesake, for His glory. This is illustrated so well in Psalm 23:1-3. Listen to the things the Lord does for us and why He does them.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousnessfor his name's sake.

Let’s commit ourselves to embracing the pop-ups. Let’s view them as ordained experiences, encounters and opportunities to do the will of God, to accomplish His purposes, and to experience more of His joy.

Let’s put ourselves on display. Let’s gossip the gospel and share God’s miracles with others. Let’s tell them about what He has done in our lives.

Let’s commit ourselves to one another. To being present, to sharing our lives, and to building each other up.

All of these things have been made possible through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is because of what He did that we can do anything at all. “The Bible never starts with what we need to do; it always begins with what God has already done."

Let’s commit ourselves to obeying and living out what we’ve heard not because we have to or out of some form of compulsion or a desire to earn our way with God. But out of love for Him that flows from our understanding of what He has done for us in Christ Jesus.