Peter headed west out of Jerusalem to visit some believers in Lydda. As he came into town they brought him to a man who’d been paralyzed for eight years.
Peter walked up to him. “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take your mat out of here.”
Aeneas felt his legs twitch. He sat up, moved his feet around, then stood up. He kicked the mat his friends carried him in on. A pain shot up his leg from his toes. “Ouch! I can feel pain in my foot. I’m healed! It’s a miracle!”
Shouts of joy filled the air. Peter was able to tell of Jesus’ gift of eternal life. Many people believed him. Two men ran to Joppa to spread the news.
A few hours later the men returned. They came straight up to Peter. “My sister just died. Would you please come and do what you can for her?”
Peter stood. “Of course, lead the way.”
The men took Peter to an upper room overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Crying women filled the room. “Ladies, this is Peter. He’s one of Jesus’ disciples.”
A woman came up to Peter holding the edge of her garment. “Dorcas made this for me after my husband died. She knew I didn’t have anything good to wear to his funeral. She always looked out for those who couldn’t pay her back.”
A younger woman carried a robe to him. “Dorcas was teaching me how to sew a hem like this so you can’t see the thread. I needed more time to get it right. She left us too soon.”
Others came to Peter with similar tales. Finally, Peter raised his hands. “I need all of you to leave the room. Please.”
The bereaved brother opened the door. “Do as he says. You can trust him. He just healed a man who’d been paralyzed for eight years. I saw it myself.”
The silent women looked at each other, then, slowly exited the room.
Peter waited for the door to close. He knelt down next to the bed of the deceased woman. The stench of decay engulfed her body.
“God of our father Abraham, Father of Jesus and all who claim His gift of eternal life, I ask that You restore this woman’s life to her. But, only if it brings glory to You.”
A sweet aroma filled Peter’s nostrils.
Peter stood. “Tabitha, get up.”
The woman’s eyes opened. She looked at him. Peter offered his hand to her. She grasped his hand and stood.
They walked to the door. Peter opened the door and stood facing the grieving people. “To show you that Jesus has power over death I give you back your friend.”
He stepped back and let Dorcas stand facing the crowd.
A cheer arose and filled the neighborhood. Many people believed because of this miracle.
A man approached Peter and stuck out his hand. “My name is Simon. I’m a tanner by trade. I’d be delighted if you’d stay with me and my family while you’re in town.”
Peter smiled. “I knew a man named Simon. I hope you’re a lot friendlier than he was.”
The men laughed as they shook hands.
Don’t you wish there was someone who could heal the lame and raise the dead today? I can see why so many people believed Peter’s message about the power of Jesus Christ after he displayed the same power Jesus had. But, that’s not the way God chooses to work through us at this time.
So, what lesson can we learn from these accounts as they’re recorded in Acts 9?
It’s not the spiritual gift of Apostleship. That went away when John died on the Isle of Patmos, because one of the requirements of being an Apostle was someone who spent time with Jesus face-to-face. They were given these special gifts as a means of getting the attention of people to start the early church.
The lesson we can take home from these stories is the progression of Peter’s comfort level.
Jesus had told His followers to spread the word from Jerusalem, to Judea, then Samaria, then the uttermost parts of the world in Acts 1:8. It took persecution in Jerusalem to get them moving in the right direction.
It was recorded how Peter performed some healings when John was with him. Now, Peter was going solo. He recognized this power was from Jesus Christ. That much is obvious. Getting him to utilize the full extent of that power was a gradual lesson.
The healing of the paralytic man in Lydda wasn’t much of a stretch for the old fisherman. Raising a woman from the dead took more faith. Peter was one of the eyewitnesses to Jesus raising a girl from the dead. That’s one reason he followed the same pattern here.
Putting everybody out of the room also gave him the uninterrupted time to focus on the task at hand. I don’t think he was confident he could pull this miracle off. So, if he didn’t succeed there’d be no witnesses to see that failure.
The confidence Peter gained from this success would go a long way in helping him with the next test to his faith in Acts 10. It still took God giving him the same vision three times before Peter could accept that he needed to reach out to Gentiles with the same life-giving news of Jesus Christ.
I like God’s sense of humor by bringing a man named Simon to offer his home to Peter to show Peter how far he’d come in this journey.
So, how about you? How is God asking you to be stretched to further His kingdom? Perhaps you’ve said ‘No’ so many times you’ve become numb to His leading. God still has a plan for your life. But, He’ll need you to grow to reach your potential.
I’m pretty sure public speaking will be a part of my future. Yeah, that’ll stretch me BIG-time.
But, I know God will be there with me.
I’ll see you later. Wade