Summary: The Apostle Peter was called to reach different kinds of people: someone with nothing to contribute to society, someone with great amount to contribute, someone with an undetermined amount to contribute. God cares for all of them, and so should the church
A CHURCH THAT STEPS OUT: REACHING DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE
John Tung, 5-6-07
There is a commercial on TV which shows several signs from companies that offer very mixed up services that do not belong together. For example - and this is in the spirit on the commercial, since I was not quick enough to write down the words - there is one sign that says, “Karate Studio and Senior Home.” Then another that says, “Pizzeria and Health Spa.” And a third one that says, “Divorce Lawyer and Wedding Planner.”
The point of the commercial, which is put on by Delta Dental, is that “Dental is all we do, and we do it better than anyone.”
Well, in today’s passage from the Bible, we also find three unrelated individuals that have nothing in common, yet for some reason they are all included in the same passage and one person ministered to all of them.
The passage is in Acts 9:32-43. And the person who ministered to them is the apostle Peter. Let’s turn to that passage and let me read it for you. [Read.]
II. God Cares for Individuals
Here we have three people named by names with apparently nothing in common between them. We have a man named Aeneas who is a paralytic. We have a woman named Tabitha. And we have only the briefest mention of the third person: Simon, who was a tanner.
Who are these people and why are they in this story?
A. God Cares for Someone with Nothing to Contribute to Society: Aeneas the Paralytic – vss. 32-35
Well, let’s start with the first person, and he was named Aeneas.
This man was not in good shape. We don’t know his age – he could be a younger person, or an older person. The passage doesn’t tell us.
But what it does tell us is that he was paralyzed and could not use his arms or legs. We’re not sure how he got that way: was it through an accident or injury, did he suffer a stroke, or was it something in his genes that showed up later in life? Once again, the passage doesn’t tell us the reason.
But what it does say is that he had been like this for 8 years. He had been paralyzed for 8 years and all he could to was lie on his bed the whole day for 8 years.
No one here wants to be like Aeneas. We don’t want to be bedridden for 8 days, let alone for 8 years. We want to go out and run around and enjoy life. We want to go to school and make friends or go to work and do something productive.
But Aeneas could do nothing productive. He just lied there. He could not contribute anything to society. He probably also had no friends. And it doesn’t say anything about his parents, his siblings, or even a wife. Most likely, he was abandoned by everyone and he was all alone. Imagine what it must have felt like to be Aeneas. It was pretty sad.
Soldiers from Iraq who lost their legs often fall into depression and feeling useless. But God cares for them.
God cared for Aeneas. God cares for someone who had nothing to contribute to society (slide says: “God Cares for Someone with Nothing to Contribute to Society: Aeneas the Paralytic – vss. 32-35”)
God cared for him and God sent the apostle Peter to this town to heal Aeneas.
Peter goes straight up to Aeneas and looks into his eyes and says, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.”
Peter tells him that it is not Peter himself who has the power to heal him. It is Jesus Christ. We don’t have the power to miraculously heal others, it is Jesus Christ.
And when Jesus Christ heals us, he wants us to do something. In Aeneas’ case, Jesus Christ wanted him to get up immediately from the mat or bed he had been lying on and take care of his mat, which probably means roll it up.
And Aeneas miraculously got up.
Sometimes in a magic show, you have someone lying down who is supposedly cut in half, and then the magician waves his hand over the person, and magically, that person gets right up to show that he wasn’t cut in half.
Well, what Peter did is better than magic. Aeneas was healed miraculously. He had really been unable to walk but now through Jesus Christ, he was healed and he could walk. God’s power is greater than magic.
But what I want you to see is that God cared for someone who made no contribution to society. Aeneas could not work, he was alone, he was very sick, he was incapacitated, but God cared for him.