Lord, please help us to fix our eyes on you and to praise you for your compassion. Your compassion to heal these particular individuals, all those years ago. But far beyond that, your compassion to suffer with us and for us on that Cross, to drain away the power and penalty of sin and death. Please give us power from your Spirit to hope for your New Creation. Introduction: Big idea: Jesus Christ heals [mission hospital in India: we treat, Jesus heals] The miracles authenticate the gospel (not the apostles; cf Philip, etc). And particularly remarkable clusters at particular points of transition or conflict. The highest point was the earthly ministry of Jesus. And here we have a cluster on the boundary zone between Samaria and Gentile territory. We are supposed to read these, and - like those at the time - turn to the Lord in renewed joy and faith. FCF: Frailty. Death and disease. By nature: born in bodies that have a limited lifespan, and inherited sicknesses. By choice: we put our hope in earthly things that simply cannot alter this fact [many cultural examples - anti-ageing research, creams, diets, infinite blogs, now cryogenic freezing in the confidence we'll eventually be able to fix everything]. We are no closer; everyone still dies. A Christian version is this: putting our hopes, and all our attention, onto healings. Healings can't save us! Everyone healed in the Bible - even everyone raised in the Bible, went on to die again. Except Jesus, whose resurrection was a different kind of resurrection; a first fruits of a new creation. A life that cannot die, called 'imperishable'. Paul is an example to us; to remain in the body would be better for one another (often), but it would be better for us to be away with the Lord. 1. Jesus heals a paralysed man, and people turn to the Lord (v32-35) Myth? No - have you read myths? Written down too soon afterwards, within life of eyewitnesses. People knew the laws of nature - that's why this is so remarkable. Jesus' person: compassion to the sick and even the dead. Goes to them, still now by His servants. Special duty to pray for the sick, to visit them [we have done here at TCC, anointed with oil]. Jesus' work. His life fulfilled the law (the power of sin), and His death destroyed sin (the sting of death). cf Matthew 8.14-17; healing is to be understood as a function of His atonement and suffering. His enthronement opens His Kingdom of restoration to all who will believe in His Name - i.e., that He is the Christ. Sickness, disease, brokenness - all these are functions of 'death'. The day you eat of it you shall surely die. Spiritual death comes as a package - sin is the sting, law is the power of sin. Like a huge scorpion with a sting, and then the poison that keeps telling you you've been stung and will die. So when we read that Jesus 'bore our illnesses' it means that He came to reverse death in all its functions - death brings sickness but Jesus makes whole; death brings sin and relational brokenness with God but Jesus brings forgiveness and restoration; death brings physical death but Jesus brings resurrection and unbreakable life. Repentance and faith: stop putting hopes in things to save - Jesus has saved. Stop grieving in the same way as others do, either grieving ill health or death - and instead rejoice in hope as you glimpse His Kingdom. 2. Jesus raises a dead woman, and many believed in the Lord (v36-43) Imagine the scene. This is very similar to 2 Kings 4.18-37, where Elisha raises the widow's son. How to think about healing today? Should we expect? Yes and no. Yes we can and should pray for healing, since in His mercy He does heal, and He hears our prayers - especially our shared gathered ones. But no in that, if God chooses not to heal, it doesn't shake our understanding of God in any way. Our big hope still stands - we weren't placing all our hopes in a temporary healing anyway. Our attitude to 'normal means' of healing is often very revealing. Does taking a tablet seem too ordinary? [mother who withheld treatment and child died] Do you know the account of Naaman who gets annoyed at being told to wash in the river? How much Christian conversation is simply coming from a desire for God to make a fuss over us, to give us a special story to tell that others don't have. Do you see? Self-centredness. 'Enough about me, God, show me what you think of me.' And what's tragic is that God has demonstrated His love, attention, concern for us in a way far greater than a miracle of healing here and now, lasting a few years. At the cross, where the Son of God becomes the lamb of God, and bears our suffering and bore our diseases. Wholeness has been purchased and secured for us. God is restoring Eden in the midst of the everyday. When we want a special story to be able to tell, what we're really saying is that this life just isn't special enough. I need to leave it behind. The people, this place, this church, this work - it's all too small, too obscure, and not powerfully spiritual enough. What do you think Tabitha/Dorcas did with the rest of her life? Write a book and found a charity promoting prayer for healing? Or get back on with helping widows, doing life together? Repentance and faith: stop putting hopes in things to save - Jesus has saved. Stop grieving in the same way as others do, either grieving ill health or death - and instead rejoice in hope as you glimpse His Kingdom. If you are cynical of healing, why? Rejoice that Jesus is a gracious Lord whose triumph has reverberations that we can pray for. If you are preoccupied with healing, why? Turn to the Lord Jesus - as this very passage says. Put your hope in the glorious age to come, when death and all its functions simply will not feature. Conclusion The works of Jesus, mediated by His Spirit, continue. The healing of Aeneas and then Dorcas could read like a chapter of the gospels, except that now the compassion and power of Jesus is being channelled by the Spirit through Peter. 'Greater works than these' are being done, in terms of the extent and number, through Jesus' church. Closing prayer: Thank you for bearing our infirmities, our sorrows, our diseases. Thank you for the glimpses of your rule and the wholeness that you give. Help us to fix our eyes on you, Lord Jesus. Other passages: Lazarus, John 11 Jesus and Jairus' daughter Elisha and the widow's son Matthew 8.14-17 Revelation 21
Translation: 32. As Peter passed himself through/spread a report through them all he came down to the saints dwelling in Lydda. 33. There he found a man by the name of Aeneas from eight years lying on his bed because he was an invalid/paralyzed. 34. And Peter said to him, 'Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed!' And immediately he rose. 35. And all those who dwelt in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. 36. In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which translated is Dorcas; she was full of good works and of charity which she had done. 37. In those days she became sick and died; they bathed her and put her in an upper room. 38. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and send two men to call him saying, 'do not delay to come to us.' 39. Peter arose and went with them; and when he arrived they took him to the upper room and all the widows were standing by and weeping and they showed him the inner and outer tunics that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40. Peter put them all outside and placed his knees and prayed and turned back to the body and said, 'Tabitha, rise!' And she opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up. 41. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; summoning the saints and the widows he presented her alive. 42. And it was known through all Joppa and a great many believed upon the Lord. 43. And he stayed many days in Joppa with [a chap called] Simon, a tanner.
The Healing of Aeneas 32 Now h as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, i Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 j And all the residents of Lydda and k Sharon saw him, and l they turned to the Lord. Dorcas Restored to Life 36 Now there was in m Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. 1 She was full of n good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in o an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, p “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to q the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics 1 and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter r put them all outside, and s knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body t he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and u many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days v with one Simon, a tanner.
32 Ἐγένετο δὲ Πέτρον διερχόμενον διὰ πάντων κατελθεῖν καὶ πρὸς τοὺς ἁγίους τοὺς κατοικοῦντας Λύδδα. 33 εὗρεν δὲ ἐκεῖ ἄνθρωπόν τινα ὀνόματι Αἰνέαν ἐξ ἐτῶν ὀκτὼ κατακείμενον ἐπὶ κραβάττου, ὃς ἦν παραλελυμένος. 34 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Πέτρος• Αἰνέα, ἰᾶταί σε Ἰησοῦς Χριστός• ἀνάστηθι καὶ στρῶσον σεαυτῷ. καὶ εὐθέως ἀνέστη. 35 καὶ εἶδαν αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες Λύδδα καὶ τὸν Σαρῶνα, οἵτινες ἐπέστρεψαν ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον. 36 Ἐν Ἰόππῃ δέ τις ἦν μαθήτρια ὀνόματι Ταβιθά, ἣ διερμηνευομένη λέγεται Δορκάς• αὕτη ἦν πλήρης ἔργων ἀγαθῶν καὶ ἐλεημοσυνῶν ὧν ἐποίει. 37 ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἀσθενήσασαν αὐτὴν ἀποθανεῖν• λούσαντες δὲ ἔθηκαν [αὐτὴν] ἐν ὑπερῴῳ. 38 ἐγγὺς δὲ οὔσης Λύδδας τῇ Ἰόππῃ οἱ μαθηταὶ ἀκούσαντες ὅτι Πέτρος ἐστὶν ἐν αὐτῇ ἀπέστειλαν δύο ἄνδρας πρὸς αὐτὸν παρακαλοῦντες• μὴ ὀκνήσῃς διελθεῖν ἕως ἡμῶν. 39 ἀναστὰς δὲ Πέτρος συνῆλθεν αὐτοῖς• ὃν παραγενόμενον ἀνήγαγον εἰς τὸ ὑπερῷον καὶ παρέστησαν αὐτῷ πᾶσαι αἱ χῆραι κλαίουσαι καὶ ἐπιδεικνύμεναι χιτῶνας καὶ ἱμάτια ὅσα ἐποίει μετʼ αὐτῶν οὖσα ἡ Δορκάς. 40 ἐκβαλὼν δὲ ἔξω πάντας ὁ Πέτρος καὶ θεὶς τὰ γόνατα προσηύξατο καὶ ἐπιστρέψας πρὸς τὸ σῶμα εἶπεν• Ταβιθά, ἀνάστηθι. ἡ δὲ ἤνοιξεν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῆς, καὶ ἰδοῦσα τὸν Πέτρον ἀνεκάθισεν. 41 δοὺς δὲ αὐτῇ χεῖρα ἀνέστησεν αὐτήν• φωνήσας δὲ τοὺς ἁγίους καὶ τὰς χήρας παρέστησεν αὐτὴν ζῶσαν. 42 γνωστὸν δὲ ἐγένετο καθʼ ὅλης τῆς Ἰόππης καὶ ἐπίστευσαν πολλοὶ ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον. 43 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἡμέρας ἱκανὰς μεῖναι ἐν Ἰόππῃ παρά τινι Σίμωνι βυρσεῖ.