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Bible Gemz 1534 - The Healing of Aeneas and Dorcas - no formulaic approach (Acts 9:34, 40-41)

February 11, 2019

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)



Now for the curious statement "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you!” in the new Gemz. As one reader wrote, "It is "interesting that in Chapter 9:34  Peter said “ Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you”  when previously in Chapter 3:6 he heals in ‘the name of Jesus Christ’ . Why is that?"


This statement is unique in Scripture. It doesn’t follow the normal formulaic, almost institutionalised “In the name of Jesus Christ (of Nazareth) get up and walk”.  Notice too when you compare the healings in the case of these two believers there are differences. I have learned that God doesn’t heal in the same way every time with each ailment. It is not that with blindness, mud is applied to the eyes in every case, or with paralysis that the paralytic must be touched physically, or with a dead body the healer must lie on the body. There are no formulas with God. But as I said in the previous Gemz often the one healed is ask to do that which is hardest for them to do. Neither are the words said each time necessarily the same. In this case the words are significantly different. In Aeneas’ case it is not a statement of faith or command, it is statement of fact before the healing. Peter simply speaks to Aeneas, who has been paralysed and bedridden for eight years and says, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you.” This is a statement that the healing is taking place before the healing took place. Furthermore it is in the present tense inferring it is taking place now. It was an instant healing. The subject and the predicate have been switched in terms of order which places emphasis on both the healer Jesus Christ and the fact that you are being healed now. This is followed by the statement “he was healed instantly. Peter simply walks up to a man bedridden and paralysed for eight years and pronounces that he is healed “now”. You can almost sense that the action of healing takes place the moment Peter mentions the word “Now!”.  How did Peter know to say that or do what he did? We must assume that all the believers and carers were still in the room. I am sure they didn't want to miss this moment when Peter came to their little town. When Peter said “now” what would have happened if he hadn’t been healed the moment Peter said the word “now”? That would have called into question the veracity of what Peter said.  


Notice in Dorcas’ case Peter asks all the people to leave the room. This is very similar to Elisha when he healed the Shunamite’s son. He wanted to be alone following which he prayed and then laid down on top of the boy. With Dorcas’ healing it is similar, Peter empties the room and then prays following which he turns to the body and says “Get up Tabitha” whereupon she opens her eyes and Peter extends her hand and helps her up. In this case Peter doesn't have onlookers as he did with Aeneas and he doesn't use Jesus name at all. We would tend to use His name somewhere in prayer we pray. Peter prayed first, seemingly a silent prayer. The prayer he prayed is not recorded. What a pity, then we would know what to pray in times like this and we could recite it each time we want to see helming take place. Isn’t that the point of all this? There are no secret formulas, no particular words that must be said to evoke healing. It is all just so infuriatingly normal. Take a moment to ponder Peter’s response. He turns to a dead body and tells the dead woman to get up. Once again hard for a dead person to do. Why did he say “get up” without any mention of Jesus name? Why didn't he use the “now” word? It has just happened 10 kms ago in Lydda. Why didn't Peter say it the way he said it in Lydda when he was in Joppa? Isn’t that the point? Don’t reduce healing to a formula! Why did Elisha lie down on the dead boy? I am sure that God told him or put into his mind, “Elisha lie down on the boy.” If all healing of dead people required the healer to lie on the dead body we would soon have the Church of the Lying Down.  The point is that each healing is unique and different and God doesn't act in the same way twice. That forces us to constantly be in touch and in sync with Him. When that happens and there is connection with between the one acting by proxy and the Healer Himself then healing takes place no matter what the circumstances, means of impartation or words said. That way we all know what the Source of the healing is.  


Lets spend a little more time on what the healed person is asked to do in these two cases. I have talked about this before. Notice the differences in the healing of the different paralysed men in Luke. Often the person is asked to do the very thing they haven’t been able to do for years. Here the dead woman is asked to "get up”. The dead can’t rise under their own power. The paralysed can’t move in accord with their own will. They need assistance to do these things. But here Dorcas is asked to get up and Aeneas is asked to roll up his sleeping mat. Well actually it was harder than that. Some versions say "roll up your sleeping mat", others read "pick up your bed, cot, pallet" still others say "make your bed". The message is: don’t just get up and stand totteringly on your formerly paralysed legs but now begin doing for yourself again. In fact there is a suggestion that this construction could also mean “Get up and set the table for yourself” or “Get yourself something to eat.”  The object of the verb  has to be supplied: it might be “bed” or “table”.  The point here is get back to doing what you were doing eight years ago. Stop relying on all those here around you to "do for you” and start doing for yourself again. You are totally and utterly healed. Perhaps that is why Peter allowed all the people to remain and hear the nature of the good news of this healing. Good news for them too. 


Lastly take note of how simple and brief the miracles are in these accounts. There is no emphasis or detail shared about the miracle which took place. The emphasis is on the end result and impact it had on everyone around about. News of the healing of Aeneas spread quickly to Joppa and the people there sent for Peter to come to them via the two men who went to fetch him. The end result is that everyone on the coastal plain around the Sharon River knew what was happening everywhere Peter went and many came to believe in the One who was healing by the power of His Holy Spirit. No wonder the Church was growing. No, not the First Church of the Lying Down, the Church universal everywhere. That is the point of these series of accounts in Luke. The Gospel is spreading from Jerusalem to the end of the earth touching all people as it goes. 




Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one who loves you most. AW Tozer


Receive mercy, give mercy. Receive grace, give grace. God wants what He gives us to flow through us to others. Lavonia Grabau


Hope is not a gift given to us, hope is a gift that we give to others.  Elie Wiesel


Pooh: what day is it? Piglet: it's today. Pooh: my favourite day.


Just because things aren't going the way you planned doesn't mean they aren't going the way they should. 


Your life is short. You have no clue when this ride will end. Stay present and live fearlessly!




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