Summary: The story of three miracles, two done through Peter and one done in Peter.
Sermon # 19
“The Miracles of Grace”
Acts 9: 32-43
Our text today is a story of miracles. We love miracles, stories of the miraculous. The concluding portion of Chapter nine and the beginning of chapter ten is the story of three such miracles. It is the record of two miracles done through Peter and one miracle done in Peter. I believe that miracle that God does in us is greater than any miracle done to us. The greatest miracle is not physical deliverance from disease but spiritual deliver-ance from sin.
In verse 32 we pick up again with the story of Peter, the last time we saw him was in Acts 8:25. Peter will remain the chief apostle to the Jews, yet it is Peter not Paul who opens the door of the gospel to the Gentiles.
There was a deep and sharp division between the Jews and the Gentiles. The root of the problem lies in the distinctions, which the Jews drew, between “clean” and “unclean.” There are of course biblical principles in the Old Testament concerning animals but not applied to men. The Jews had unfortunately applied this principle to men with disastrous results. Israel was chosen as the vessel through which God would bring lost men and women to Himself. But the fundamental obstacle to Jews carrying out this task was prejudice. And it in turn it also became the fundamental obstacle to the proclamation of the gospel. It had been five years since Pentecost and still the church was Jewish to the core. Christianity was seen as a sect of the Jewish religion.
In fact one of the problems that the church had to deal with in the early years was the notion, advanced by the Judaizers, that one must first become a Jew before becoming a Christian. That even as a Christian they must be circumcised and keep the law. This false doctrine first rears its head in Acts 15:1-2, “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (2) Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.”
Because of this teaching a “council” was called at Jerusalem to settle this dispute. Peter’s experience as describe in chapter ten and repeated in chapter eleven are the evidence presented to support the fact that one did not have to first become a Jew before becoming a Christian.
The last section of chapter nine helps us to understand that Peter had a change of heart concerning the inclusion of Gentiles. This change of heart was a progressive one. We see this progression first, geographically. Peter who has made his home in Jerusalem now moves out on an evangelist tour of the churches in the cities northeast of Jerusalem. Here he visits the congregations that have sprung up as the result of the scattering after the death of Stephen. As he journeyed eventually God led him to Lydda (lid’-ah) and then on to Joppa.
I. The Miracle Done Through Peter in Lydda
“Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. (33) There he found a certain man named Aeneas, (e’-ne-as) who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. (34) And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed." Then he arose immediately. (35) So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.”
The first miracle that the Lord does through Peter is in the ancient town of Lydda is about twenty-five west of Jerusalem, is now a suburb of Tel Aviv, in fact the airport at Tel Aviv is located at Lydda
It is in Lydda that Peter comes across paralyzed man named Aeneas who has been confined to his bed for the last eight years. Very much in the manner of the Lord tells this man to get up and walk. Peter through the authority of the name of Jesus brought perfect soundness to Aeneas. The healing that occurred seemed to be in marked contrast to what we see from the television “healers” of our day.
Notice, First, that Aeneas did not have to come to Peter or to a meeting for his healing.
Secondly, notice that the healing did not come from Peter. Peter was not the source of the healing, rather the healing came through Peter from Jesus. The focus was on Jesus.
Third, the healing was instantaneous. Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ is (present tense) [now at this moment] healing you.” As a result the man was able to get up and make his bed. He became a walking miracle. Are you a walking miracle of God’s grace?