So, has the title confused you yet? Maybe Intrigued you a little? Ahh, I didn’t think so. It’s my lame attempt at creative title making I guess. We’re going to continue to look at the next event in Peter’s conversation with us. We’re skipping over another huge moment in the Genesis of the early church, and that’s Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-31. When you get a chance (after reading my <ahem> amazing blog <sarcasm> <cough>,though), read this section because it is pretty amazing and worthy a whole separate study in itself, but our focus for the moment is Peter. We left off in Chapter 8 with the Christians in Jerusalem (with the exception of the apostles) scattering to the four winds to escape persecution from Jewish authorities, specifically a Pharisee by the name of Saul who was intent, well maybe obsessed with destroying this new sect. We’re at chapter 9 now, and God performs a miracle in the life of Saul, but, again, that’s another study, we’re looking at Peter. This conversation at first seems pretty typical, no big deal to be honest, a healing, a resurrection, pretty typical stuff for an apostle. It’s Peter living and being obedient to the move of the HOLY SPIRIT, which will then lead to something bigger. GOD is placing Peter in the right spot, at the right time so that HE can not only rock Peter’s world, but change how HIS followers relate to the world around them. That’s what GOD does for us, HE places in the right time, right place, right moment so that we can do the little things (at least in our perspective), that are big things for others, which sets us up for a greater realization from GOD later. Let’s take a look at this prelude:
32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up.35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Pretty straight forward text, nothing ground breaking to be honest. Peter heals a guy that had been paralyzed for 8 years. Typical day for Peter, he’s been doing this regularly since Pentecost, and then watched Jesus do it for 3 years. Part of me wants to believe that some part of Peter is still absolutely rocked and amazed at the fact that people are being healed when he speaks, but he keeps it all in perspective. He says, “Jesus Christ heals you”, not himself or anyone else. He realizes the power only comes from Christ, but I bet it stills absolutely mind blowing to him. But there’s something deeper here. Peter is outside of Jerusalem, specifically in Samaria, which, historically, sociologically, and racially, is anathema to a Jew. What I mean by that is that Jews and Samaritans simply hate each other. I mean, cross to the other side of the street so they don’t walk on the same side as each other hate. Initially, Peter was in Samaria to teach the new believers, which at first were Jewish converts. Peter decides to do some travelling and preaching around the area, and in Lydda, finds a man named Aeneas who had been paralyzed and in a moment, by speaking Jesus’s name, he heals him. 8 years this guy has been paralyzed and in an instant, he’s healed; pretty typical day for Peter, but the people in the community are rocked and people start believing. Pretty typical for an apostle, we sometimes read this and just take it for granted and are like, “Oh, that’s Peter just doing his thing”. Well, hold on. There’s more.
36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”
39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
SO…here we go. Lydda was near the major Port city and regional commercial town of Joppa. A small group of disciples were in Joppa, and among them was a woman named Tabitha who was greatly admired, loved, and appreciated for her servant’s heart and love of others. She dies. The Disciples in Joppa hear that Peter is in Lydda, so the send for him, not sure what to expect, but they ask him to come. When he gets there, he’s met by the mourners who praise all that Tabitha had done while she was alive and people are crying, and Paul finally shoo’s them all out of the room. He gets down on his knees and prays, I don’t know for how long, it doesn’t say. It could have been a quick prayer, it could have been a lengthy extended time, but when he’s done, he looks at her and says “Tabitha, get up”. Now, personally, if that were me, I might be a bit annoyed with Peter. Going from the presence of God, back to earth and my body that had died from sickness. It doesn’t record any conversation they had, but Peter calls the rest of the believers in and they’re presented with a living Tabitha, the one that moments before was dead was now alive. Peter’s willingness and obedience to following Christ’s leading led to even more converts, and it says that Peter stayed in Joppa for a while with a leather worker by the name of Simon.
You’re probably saying to yourself right now, “yes, Kevin, these are miracles that are mind-blowing, but it’s a typical day for Peter, it’s his job, his calling, his mission, whatever it is, it doesn’t seem like anything other than typical for what’s expected of an apostle. Oh, but there’s more to it. Never just take the New Testament, for that matter, the BIBLE for isolated moments, it all ties together. Because of the Persecution, the local body in Jerusalem scatters and makes converts. Because of the converts outside of Jerusalem, the apostles have to go out and teach these converts. Paul is now in Samaria, among a people who most Jews considered unclean and heathens. At this time the church is primarily made up of Jewish converts, there are a few Gentiles, but the emphasis of the disciples has been to the Jewish community and they were still abiding by Jewish customs, so if a non Jew converted to Christ, they were expected to follow Jewish law and tradition. Oh, but God is not satisfied with that, nope, no way. However, it’s HIS timing and HIS plan that’s perfect and HE’s setting the pieces in the right place to change everything. Peter, one of the leading apostles is in Samaria, among the people that the Jews hate, and things are about to change. Have you noticed how GOD does that? HE gets us out of our comfort zones, shows what amazing things HE can do, and we’re amazed at what HE’s doing through us at the moment, but HE want’s so much more for us and a lot of times it’s only preparation for something bigger. A deeper realization, that’s what GOD is doing for Peter now that he’s out of Jerusalem. If you get pulled out of your comfort zone, be prepared GOD has something HE’s preparing for you. Do the ministry that is before you, be aware of the opportunities for ministry that GOD is laying at your feet, but be prepared, there’s something coming for you. There was something HUGE that GOD was preparing for Peter that would change his faith, change the way people related to each other, and changed how they related to GOD. But that’s another conversation for another day. Stay tuned, we’re not finished our conversation with Peter.