GETTING THE MESSAGE/Acts 9:32-43
Here we see the gospel spreading across Judea. Peter is traveling throughout the region, and Luke first gives us an account of his activity in the town of Lydda. There Peter encounters a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for 8 years due to paralysis. Peter says to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose.
This miracle closely resembles the work of Christ in Mark chapter two. Peter, as an apostle of Christ, is now acting as the hands of Christ healing and preaching in his name. And we see the people in Lydda and region of Sharon turn to the Lord in response. This means the gospel was explained to them and they turned to Christ for forgiveness of sins.
Next we see a similar event in Joppa (Acts 9:36-42). A devout woman named Tabitha becomes ill and dies. The saints in Joppa know Peter is in nearby Lydda, so they send two men to him on an urgent mission to ask him to come. Peter complies, and when he gets to Joppa finds a crowd of widows weeping over Tabitha’s death because she had made clothes for them and was full of good deeds.
Peter, again closely resembling the actions of Jesus (this time in Mark five), puts all the people out of the room where Tabitha lay. He kneels down to pray, turns to the body, and says, “Tabitha, arise.” She sits up, and he takes her by the hand and then presents her alive to the saints. This miracle became known in Joppa and many believed in the Lord.
As we have noted before, the miracles by the apostles served to authenticate their message that Jesus was the Christ, and he came to save sinners and restore us to a right relationship with God. The miracles also point to the future blessedness of a place with God, a place with none of the effects of sin, such as disease, misery, and death. The apostles would have explained these things in detail. The people who turned to the Lord would have necessarily been convicted of sin.
The basic tenant of the Christian faith is that sin is an offence against God which disrupts a man’s relationship with God. Unless we see our shortcomings in the light of the law and holiness of God, we do not see them as sin at all. We never know what sin really is until we have learned to think of it in terms of God, to measure it not by human standards, but by the yardstick of His total demand on our lives.
It is not necessarily conviction of sin when a man is distressed about his weaknesses and the wrong things he has done. It is not conviction of sin just to feel miserable about yourself and your failures and your inadequacies to meet life’s demands. Nor would it be saving faith if a man in that condition called on Christ just to soothe him, and cheer him up, and make him feel confident again.
To be convicted of sin means not just to feel that one is a failure, but to realize that one has offended God, flouted His authority, defied Him, gone against Him, and put oneself in the wrong with Him. Christ is offered as the One who through the cross sets men right with God again. To put faith in Christ means relying on Him, and Him alone, to restore you to God’s fellowship and favor.
Christ, the Savior from sin and an Advocate with God, gives you peace and joy, desires to serve Him and His people (like Tabitha), and the privilege of being an adopted child of the living God. He is not offered merely to make better the frailties in a fallen world, though he can do that. But we leave the painful present and unknown future with Christ, the Lord over all.
The miracles done by the apostles were to demonstrate God has given a Savior to sinners who are alienated from God and exposed to his just condemnation. God is full of love and mercy, and it is poured out on us through Christ. So call upon him, and turn to him.
We need to put ourselves in the place of Aeneas and Tabitha spiritually speaking. The word “arise” spoken to them is often used of the resurrection power of Christ. Once we believe in Christ, we have been raised to eternal life, and we walk with God. So we can lay down all at Jesus’ feet and place the reins of our remaining days in his hand.