Meanwhile, Peter traveled from place to place, and he came down to visit the believers in the town of Lydda. There he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!” And he was healed instantly. Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord.
There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!” So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them. But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive. The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord. And Peter stayed a long time in Joppa, living with Simon, a tanner of hides.Acts 9:32-43
So far I have only received two questions about the places mentioned which I have responded to in the last Gems and one comment/question related to the curious statement “Jesus Christ heals you”.
“It is “interesting that in Chapter 9:34 Peter said “ Aenaes, Jesus Christ heals you” when previously in Chapter 3:6 he heals in ‘the name of Jesus Christ’. Why is that?”
In this section we have two significant power encounters. Two moments of plundering the kingdom of darkness. One related to a long term, eight year paralysis and another concerning a premature death. Two people, seemingly one well-known and one unknown. We know absolutely nothing about Aeneas, whose name is also of unknown origin. We don’t know what his name meant and we are not told anything more about him. Neither are we told anything about who was with him at the time of his healing, but assumedly someone was. As a paralysed man he could not have done anything with his own bed himself but must have had someone in the household who would do that for him each morning and each evening for eight years. Failing that he would have lain on his bed day and night for eight years. That being the case he would have had eight years worth of bed sores and ugly sores and infections on all his pressure points. But we are not told anything more about him, neither do we have any idea what his name, Aeneas, meant. His life was a mystery apart from the fact that Peter and the Holy Spirit came by one day and changed his life forever.
Tabitha, or Dorcas’, name means in both languages “gazelle”. At the moment Peter met her she was very ungazelle-like. She was certainly not springing about, leaping and dancing and praising God. Aeneas was in the same position, motionless. To all intents and purposes both of these people were in the same position – unresponsive. However Dorcas (I will use her Greek name as the text we are reading was originally handed down to us in Greek) was a bellever as it seems was Aeneas as Peter came to visit the believers and met Aeneas. While Peter was visiting Aeneas and the believers in Lydda, Dorcas died in Joppa. Two believers in two small town places were singled out for the attention of the Holy Spirit – remember these are the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Aeneas we know nothing more about. Dorcas was a well known person. Her friends and those who knew her heard that Peter was in Lydda and no doubt heard what had happened there. So they sent two men to ask Peter to come as soon as possible. Everyone around the valley of the Sharon River heard what happened to Aeneas when Peter dropped in on the believers of Lydda. So Dorcas’ friends in Joppa sent the men to get him to come to Dorcas. Come quickly because we don’t have much time left. As I have told you before the Jewish belief was that the spirit stayed with the body after death for three days and then departed. By the fourth day it would have been too late even if Dorcas friends had enough faith to believe Peter could do something for Dorcas. It is clear from the text that she was a disciple of Christ (the only time the female form of disciple is used in the New Testament is to refer to Dorcas). Her friends were grieving her and recalling how kind and helpful to the poor she was. Clearly one of her charities was linked with clothing made for poor people. There is a local memorial in the “Tabitha School” in Jaffa devoted to the care and education of poor girls in memory of Dorcas. Dorcas societies have sprung up all over the world. I have encountered two in our travels over the years. This woman was well known and well loved for her work among the poor. The women had gathered to mourn Dorcas’ passing and seemingly had gathered all the clothes she had recently made and which had not yet been distributed to those who needed them. It reminds me a lot of the woman who gather in Indonesian villages to mourn the death of one of their own.
The healing of an unknown believer in Lydda becomes the catalyst for the resurrection of a well known woman in Joppa. Do you notice why these two stories are chosen? The point made in 9:31 was that the church was growing as a result of the encouragement of the Holy Spirit in Judea, Galilee and Samaria. Meanwhile at the time Saul was active in the first two areas, Peter had been active in Samaria, when he went to drop in on Phillip. After that Peter is going from place to place around the area of Sharon and is called to Joppa after what had happened in Lydda. This is an extension of exactly the same thing that was mentioned in verse 31. The church was growing as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. Where Saul, Peter, Phillip and in fact any of the believers went the Holy Spirit moved. That is the point of this whole section. Notice the end result of what happened in Lydda and in Joppa.
- “Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord.” verse 35
- “The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.” verse 42
The whole region was impacted. Do you think that only Saul and Peter were active? I think not.
Here we are told of two incidents that happened in two different places. Were they the only examples of the impact that Peter and Saul had from what they were doing? No of course not. We have just been given a couple of examples. What happened after we are told, “And Peter stayed a long time in Joppa, living with Simon, a tanner of hides”?
Do you think Peter did nothing more after Aeneas and Dorcas were healed? Yes Dorcas too was healed – in the ultimate way. No I think the process continued and not just with Peter and Saul but with all the other believers (not just the immediate 12 disciples) – all the believers! The power of the Holy Spirit had now been given to them all.
One more thing before we close today. Notice the instant nature of what happened in these two examples of the healing of Aeneas and the resurrection of Dorcas. “Aeneas was healed instantly.” Dorcas was raised from the dead immediately after Peter had “turned to the body and said, “Get up, Tabitha.” She opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up!” After which Peter gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.” it is all so very real, dramatic and present tense. Notice one more thing for today. The very thing these two believers were asked to do was the hardest thing for them to do given their situation.
- Aeneas was told to “Aeneas, get up, and roll up your sleeping mat.”
- Dorcas was told to “”Get up, Tabitha.”
To tell a paralysed person and a dead person to “get up” is a little ridiculous. They can’t, except by the power of God. Notice also, both of their names were used in a personal way. We may have one unknown person and one well known person in the realm of mankind but both are known completely by God’s Holy Spirit.
Don’t worry I haven’t finished with this story yet. I will get to the curious statement “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you!” in the next Gem and throw in some more interesting things. But let’s face it, when the Holy Spirit is present in a believer anything can happen. Be prepared – both to receive but perhaps more importantly to initiate if you are believer. This is for you too.
Run to the throne not to the phone.Joyce Meyer
- What if . . .
- … our Bibles were just as important as our cell phone?
- … we treated the Bible like we couldn’t live without it?
- … when we forgot it, we went back to get it?
- … we had lots of gadgets to keep us connected to the Bible?
- … we always had our Bibles closer than our cell phones in case of emergency? Ian Vail
What if the power of the Holy Spirit was just as real and manifest in us as it was in Peter and those early believers?Ian Vail
The God of Eternity controls eternity. He weaves your story into His story for His Glory.Ian Vail