Today as we continue in our series “A.D. Easter was only the beginning”, we’re looking at Acts 9, in verses 32 through 43; and we’re going to change characters this morning and look at the apostle Peter. Now the last time we saw Peter, he was rebuking Simon the sorcerer in Acts chapter 8, because he thought he could buy the gift of the Holy Spirit. As we get into this passage of Scripture we find Peter participating in two great miracles, one as he goes to visit the saints in Lydda, a predominantly Gentile, unbelieving city, about 25 miles from Jerusalem. And then another in Joppa, located on the seacoast, about 10 miles beyond Lydda. Interestingly, this is the place from which the prophet Jonah took off from when he tried to flee from God (Jonah 1:1-3).
As I was studying I found the parallels between Peter and Jonah were startling. If you remember, Jonah went to Joppa to avoid preaching the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles, but Peter was in Joppa when he received his call to go to the Gentiles. Jonah disobeyed God and the Lord sent great winds of a storm that caused the Gentile sailors great fear, but Peter obeyed the Lord and God sent the powerful wind of the Spirit to the Gentiles and they experience God’s grace with great joy. So today, I want to talk about this great move of the Holy Spirit in the Miracles of the Kingdom. Let’s open the Word of God and read about these great miracles recorded here in Acts chapter 9 at verse 32.
“As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34 "Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who 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 the believers and 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” (Acts 9:32-43).
Today it seems as if a large portion of our population is doing everything we can to extend our lives; yet day by day were faced with the reality of sickness and even death. There seems to be nothing that we can do that would prevent sickness and death. And that is because according to the story of the Bible, that sin has entered the world, it affects our soul, separates us from God, and effects our body causing us ultimately to die. Knowing this, God made a promise in the book of Isaiah that Jesus would conquer sin, sickness, and death. And Jesus does arrive, he does die for our sin, and the most amazing part of his life was that he healed people. So people came to him and they would receive supernatural deliverance of the demonic. People came and received miraculous healing, but some doubted and questioned the source of his ability to do such amazing supernatural work, and to them he replied, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). Once when asked when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
Today I want to share with you the Miracles of the Kingdom. Because Jesus dies on the cross for our sin, he rises from the grave, conquers sin and death, and then ascends to heaven. But we’re not left on our own struggling through sickness, mourning the loss of loved ones, there is hope in the midst of tragedy. The Bible tells us, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). “The kingdom of God is near” (Mark 1:15). It has “come upon you.” (Matthew 12:28). It is “near you” (Luke 10:9). It has “come to you” (Luke 11:20). “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you” (Mark 4:11). It “is within you" (Luke 17:21). This morning I want to assure you of the powerful presence of the Kingdom of God both past, present, and future. Because Jesus promised, “the Kingdom of God is coming, it’s here, it’s in you, and it’s not yet!
The account we’ve just read in the book of Acts instills in us the hope and promise of the Kingdom of God with us. This past Easter, millions of Americans tuned in to watch “A.D. – The Bible Continues” and were plunged into the world-changing events of that first Easter. And honestly it is the hope of Easter that motivates each of us today, because Jesus is still alive in heaven, he still hears our prayers, he still heals people, he still sympathizes with us, and he is still involved in our lives. This morning Jesus is just as accessible to you and I as he was when he walked on the earth 2000 years ago. He is just as available to you today as he was to the crowds that surrounded him in Galilee. And this passage of Scripture here in the book of Acts reveals to us that reality as Jesus deals with sickness and death from his throne in heaven.
First we see this man Aeneas, who we’re introduced to in verse 33, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. And so, we see Peter visiting the saints in Lydda when he discovered Aeneas, a saint who is not only bedridden, but he’s paralyzed. And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you.’ Immediately Aeneas got up. And all those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” It was a great miracle emphasizing the hope of the Kingdom of God and a perfect example of the Kingdom of God permeating our lives today. As the Lord Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is near, it has come upon you, it is near you, it has come to you, and it “is within you” (Luke 17:21).
This supernatural empowerment of the reality of the Kingdom of God was an act of faith. Peter knows that if anyone is going to be healed, it’s Jesus Christ who heals, so in faith he told Aeneas to “get up” and in faith Aeneas “got up.” But you know today, there are some of you here that know that you’re forgiven and you’re not walking in the forgiveness. When God heals this man, immediately he gets up and walks in that healing, that’s faith. Can we walk in that kind of faith today? Will you walk in faith today?
“Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” In other words because of this visible demonstration of the present kingdom of God many people became Christians. They wanted to meet this Jesus who had healed this man. And God still does this today, because the kingdom of God is still here, and it has come upon you (Matthew 12:28). He still does because he’s God and the miraculous supernatural healing power of Jesus from Heaven is still available today. As we read the book of Acts, we discover 14 different healings, 12 out of the 28 chapters testify to a supernatural healing, and so we can see and know that Jesus Christ can and does heal from heaven.
That is our hope and that is Jesus promise. It is by his wounds that we are healed and we can say with certainty that perfect, total, complete healing is God’s promise to every believer in Jesus Christ. This healing was paid for by the wounds he bore on our behalf and is the fullness of his work for us. And just as the kingdom of God is coming, it’s near, it has come, and it is within you; we don’t always see that promise realized right now. Just as the fullness of our salvation is not realized right now, our walk may be less than perfect, but the Bible says that we “have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8), that we “are being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and that we “will be saved” (1 Corinthians 3:15). And in the same way, there is a sense in which we have been healed, are being healed, and one day will be healed. God promises that every healing today is simply anticipating the hope and glory of the resurrection. And He says, these things are merely “a shadow of the things that are to come” (Colossians 2:17). “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” but one day, “we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). But now, right here in verses 32 to 35 we see a very public, very obvious, supernatural healing of this paralyzed man.
I don’t know about you, but when I read things like this in the Bible, God stir something deep inside of me. Doesn’t he do that for you? I think God awakens in us a hope, like maybe they could be healed, maybe our lives could be improved, because honestly when you are suffering, or someone you really love is suffering, you just want it to be better. Like when my wife, Dana and I, had a close friend of ours that we were praying for, a mother with children who had been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. We had known his family for a long time, she had helped raise our two oldest children, and we really cared for this family. We couldn’t imagine her children not having a mother or her husband not having a wife. So we prayed for her to be healed, we prayed for her in the hospital to be healed, we prayed and we prayed, because when someone you love is suffering, when they’re hurting, you can become a little desperate. Right? And so when we hear that Jesus heals from heaven, that’s exactly what we want, and then the question is, “How do we make him do that, how do we pray, and what do we do?”
And so here’s the deal, you can’t, we can’t make Jesus heal. Jesus is sovereign. He is seated on a throne in heaven where he is ruling and reigning as the King of kings and Lord of lords. But you can’t make him do anything. He is sovereign, meaning he is above all, he’s in control, and he’s in charge. And so here’s what we do, you humbly ask the Lord and pray according to his perfect will. He actually invites us to do this. Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14). Now those statements are not unconditional… nor do we make the conditions… because they are according to his perfect will and his perfect time. So when we’re in that difficult and desperate place, we humbly ask the Lord and he could say yes, he could say later, or he could say no not yet. But we need to understand that Jesus cannot be manipulated or controlled and so here’s what we need to do. In everything by prayer and petition we present our requests to God. So we’re going to ask him, and keep asking him, and maybe plead a few times, and then were going to accept his answer and worship him because his grace is sufficient. Amen?
Lastly, I want you to see the powerful, miraculous, supernatural, intervention of the Kingdom of God. In verses 36-43, we were introduced to Tabitha, a woman who was always doing good and helping the poor. In other words, she was a godly loving Christian woman who became sick and died. She had a battle with some sort of illness and eventually lost. But here’s what I love about this. It says her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Do you notice that they don’t bury her; they don’t even put on grave clothes… because their hope didn’t end just because her life ended.
You see as believers in Christ our hope doesn’t end when life does. These folks here in Joppa had hope, they believe the promise of God and they’re thinking, “if He did it before, he could do it again, let’s just wait and see.” And so when they heard that Peter was in Lydda they sent men to urge him to “come at once.”
I love this, let’s read it again in verse 40, “Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.”
Now I wonder how many of you are like me. You’ve prayed this prayer and God’s answer was later, someday in the Kingdom. But here in verse 40, God’s answer was today. I believe the reason that Jesus brings Tabitha back from the dead is to show us that He still has the power to conquer death. So that we could see what the future holds if our hope, our faith, and our trust is in promise and power of Jesus Christ. You see ultimately there was a greater resurrection that was awaiting Tabitha, she had only been raised to life, the best was yet to come, one day she would experience the resurrection into the everlasting presence of Jesus.
Now I’m not sharing all of this with the intention of being an emotional roller coaster of death and sickness, but really a consideration of the One who has the power to conquer sin and is victorious over every sickness and death. To let you know that today Jesus Christ is King, that he is seated on a throne right now, he’s ruling and reigning over a Kingdom that will never end. And today some of us are limping, some of us are walking, and some of us are running, but were on our way to the Kingdom. We are citizens of the Kingdom but we haven’t made it yet. We are pilgrims, aliens, and strangers on the way; and occasionally we find that the Kingdom invades this world in supernatural, miraculous, and incomprehensible ways. And this is awesome, because the reason that God does this is to give us and our neighbors a glimpse, a foreshadowing, a sneak preview of the Kingdom. He’s like, “Here’s what it’s going to be like when the world comes to an end, the dead are resurrected, and my people are in my presence forever.”
Now I know that some of you are young and you really don’t think about death, you don’t want to think about death, but the reality is that sometimes death comes very quickly and suddenly. My greatest concern is that you know how to die right and to die well, because the worst thing is not dying… the worst thing is dying without believing in Jesus. You see, if you believe in Jesus Christ, even though you die, he says you’ll live and you’ll enter into his Kingdom (John 11:25-26).
There is coming a day when death will be no more. Can you see the Hope, The Promise, and the Power of the Kingdom of God? Listen to what Jesus says of that day, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Can you just imagine?
All of this hope, all of this promise of the kingdom is illustrated in these two great powerful miracles. And they show us number one that Jesus can still heal and number two that Jesus can still raise the dead. This powerful truth needs to be an anchor for your soul and your hope for the future. As followers of Christ we need to think biblically and we need to understand that when we’re suffering, we worship a God who has suffered. And when we’re dying, we’ve worshiped a God who died and who awaits us on the other side. That will give you hope to continue marching forward into the Kingdom and the presence of Jesus forever. Amen.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
June 14, 2015