Ministry is not always a bed of roses. We have spoken about this before, though it is encouraging for all Christian Workers when God uses them in amazing ways. In the passage we started yesterday we saw Peter being used by God in wonderful ways that stimulate confidence in the Gospel amongst those in the areas he worked. Yesterday we saw that:
Ac 9:32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda.
By now he had a fairly good handle on the Christian environment in the region.
1) Aeneas the paralytic.
Ac 9:33 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.
Although we do not know Aeneas’ age we do know that he was “a man”. This means he was an adult and for the past 8 years as an adult, he was a paralytic and restricted to an unfulfilled life of bed confinement. We are not told why he was handicapped. Peter came across this man calling him by name saying … “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.”
(1) It rings of Jesus’ words to another paralytic:
Mt 9:2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Mt 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7And the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
The reason for using this passage is to show that when Jesus healed this paralytic in Matthew 9, the focus was not so much on his physical healing but his spiritual healing! In verse 2, Jesus says …“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then He points out to the teachers of the law that His mission to earth is all about “forgiving” sin … and follows through with:
Ac 9:5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins?
This man Peter speaks to is told … “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Although not categorically stated, this healing implies spiritual healing because “Jesus Christ heals you.” You and I need to know that should Jesus heal us, deliver us, provide for us … the main reason for His blessings is salvation … the forgiveness of our sin.
(2) The instantaneous healing. Our text says … Immediately Aeneas got up. The reason for making an “issue” of this is that his paralysis was cured immediately. For the first time in 8 years he “got up” and “took care of his mat”. Picture this … no wobbly legs or buckling knees. No unsteady walking, rather instantaneous healing resulting in perfect restoration of his body.
Yet, we need to understand that this instant healing of the body reflected an instant healing of the soul because as with Jesus healing the paralytic, so with Peter, the emphasis and focus is on the man’s soul! Immediately his sins were forgiven. Immediately he was saved. Immediately he was born again. Immediately he was incorporated into the kingdom of God!
This is true of any person turning in faith to Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. Immediately pardon is pronounced by God, He transfers you into His Eternal Kingdom as a citizen and adopts you into His forever family as His child. There is no need to wonder or struggle with lack of assurance. Jesus Himself says:
Jn 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
(3) Seeing led to believing.
Ac 9:35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
People knew this man was a cripple. They might even had known the reason for his paralysis and now they see him walking. This was vivid … this was dramatic … this was extraordinary … and maybe they asked … “What happened to this man?” They would have been told how Peter spoke in Jesus Christ’s name and the man was healed. The result was electrifying! Our text informs us that … all those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. He was seen restored, healed, normal, because of being healed in the name of Jesus Christ … resulting in these inhabitants from the town of Lydda and the Plain of Sharon “turning to the Lord”!
As we shall see again and again, this is the result of healings, miracles and exorcisms. When people claim healings, exorcisms and miracles today and people do not turn to Jesus in salvation, such workings are either fake or satanic. The greatest reason though to turn to Jesus is when He saves a soul lost in sin, the world and wickedness. That sight and that amazing grace ought to convict other sinners of their need and flee to Jesus for saving grace.
2) Maybe we ought to spend time reflecting on our personal salvation and the results of our salvation to ourselves personally and others. It is true that many people slide gradually into the reality of salvation. Whether they were born into a Christian home or attended Church for years, they suddenly become aware that saving grace has been poured into their soul. They are forgiven and are now Christian. There are others again who experience dramatic conversions, displayed in various ways.
The first might be the dawn of salvation resulting in extreme joy and happiness. They were not really “bad” people. They lived a reasonably healthy and moral lives. They did no harm and were good people in their homes, workplaces and society when suddenly the Light of the Gospel dawned and they became aware God has saved their souls and incorporated them into His Eternal Family.
Others again lived in various forms of willful sin and wickedness. The dark cloud over their souls helped to block out any Gospel penetration causing much protection from anything to do with Jesus Christ. Then suddenly, in various ways, such people are confronted with the Gospel and as the hymn writer puts it:
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”Charles Wesley
No one can explain this because it is the Holy Spirit at work. All that is known is a radical change from being lost to being found. Here’s the question … “Like the paralytic, are people able to see what happened to you and turn to Jesus?”
Thank You, Jesus, for salvation. Amen.