Acts 09_32-35 Rejuvenation and Revival at Lydda
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Rejuvenation and Revival at Lydda
March 13, 2022
Read Acts 9:32-35 – Wm Carey, “father of modern missions” failed his first ordination exam. He was told, “Bro Carey, you have no likes in your sermons. Jesus taught the Kingdom of Heaven was like a mustard seed, was like a hidden treasure. You tell us what things are, but never what they are like.” Well, we have one of the Bible’s likes today. A vignette depicting new life in Christ! A physical healing depicting what spiritual healing is like!
We last saw Peter at the Samarian revival in Acts 8. Now he’s engaged in an itinerant ministry of evangelism. Travel was a constant for him as Paul mentions in I Cor 9:5 Peter often had his wife with him. He was eventually executed in Rome. But for now, he’s a few miles west of Jerusalem to Lydda which today is known as Lod and is just south of Israel’s Intnl airport.
He’s preaching the gospel and encouraging the saints in Lydda. Philip had been there. After his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:40: “But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.” That’s all the towns along the western coastal region of Palestine. Now Peter follows in Lydda and was used by God to create the beautiful pix of salvation we will now examine in detail – a physical illustration of a greater spiritual reality
The Wretchedness Peter Encountered
33 There he found a [certain] man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed.” “Certain” isn’t in your text, but it’s in the original, a reminder God seeks individuals. He’ll leave the 99 to go find the one. You’re here today bc He cares for you. There are no accidents in God’s providence.
So, Peter finds Aeneas in wretched condition. He’s bedridden for 8 years, physical and emotionally drained. One of the hardest experiences of my life was watching my dad – one of the physically strongest men I knew – be felled by a stroke at age 83. Six years of extreme disability followed – the last 3 completely bedridden, unable to speak. Mom and Dad were unfailingly faithful, but it was tough sledding. Hospice workers used to tell of other places they went where there was no faith, no hope, and the conditions were almost inhumane. Peter had encountered a wretched physical condition.
But Aeneas’ physical problem is just the tip of the iceberg. He doesn’t yet know Jesus. He pictures for us the far greater wretchedness of those who are spiritually disabled – unable to respond to God because they are spiritually dead. This has never been a popular message, and never more so than in our day. In a relativistic society, it is pretty easy to create and “serve” a god of one’s own making who accepts the best you can do as good enough. But this is not and never has been the God of the Bible. His standard is His own character, and by that standard, we’re all wretched.
We’re “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1), no ability to respond to God bc of sin. Our culture has expunged sin from our vocabulary as tho denying it cancels it. Secular psychiatrist, Karl Memminger spoke to this denial in Whatever Became of Sin? There are many answers to that question, but the only true one is, nothing has happened to sin; something has happened to us. We just don’t talk about it anymore. It’s not politically incorrect. But denial doesn’t cancel the truth. Something is wrong with humanity. We are not all we could be; we are not even what we want to be. We are disabled.
G. K. Chesterton said, “Original sin is the only part of Xn theology which can really be proved.” We prove it every day by the way we act, think and speak. We can’t help ourselves. Even the best of us. Actor Lee Marvin once made a remarkable confession: “How did I feel when I saw myself on the screen? I found it very unpleasant recently when I saw a film of mine called Point Blank, a violent film. We made it for the violence. But I was shocked at how violent it was. When I saw the film I literally almost could not stand up, I was so weak. I did that? I am capable of that kind of violence?”
While we see ourselves as good people, we could all be pushed to vengeful violence and chaos. Why? Bc it’s there deep in our hearts just waiting to exploit some wrong, some hurt, some slight, real or imagined. The wretchedness Peter found is the wretchedness that lies in the deepest recesses of the human heart, a condition we can’t remedy. We are unable and unwilling to meet God’s standard, and until we acknowledge that, there is no hope.
II. The Rejuvenation Jesus Extended
So, met with such hopelessness, what does Peter do? He offers Christ. He is not, seeking his own fame and fortune. He is instead using the gifts God gave His apostles as in II Cor 12:12 where Paul says, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you” – gifts to authenticate his mission and message which Peter uses to say to Aeneas, “Jesus Christ heals [literally is healing] you; rise and make your bed” (34). Jesus is Aeneas’ only solution. And Peter is so sure of his own calling and of the power of Christ in his life that he says, “Even as I am speaking to you, Aeneas, Jesus is healing you.”
That’s a stunning statement. It means first that Jesus is alive. He could not be healing Aeneas that very moment unless He were alive. The carpenter from Nazareth, was executed on a Roman cross in AD32 was, 10-12 years later, healing Aeneas of his physical and spiritual disability. Dead people can’t do that. So, once again, in the absence of the eyewitness testimony later gathered in the NT, Jesus provides a vivid illustration of His resurrected life. All of Xn faith depends on that. I Cor 15:17 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. . . . 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” Jesus is alive and well and working in Lydda.
And, this shows us Jesus cares. He’s directed the most famous representative of His church to the bedside of one lost man offering him physical and spiritual rejuvenation he could to find nowhere else. And He’s done it for one reason. He cares. He cares for the crowds, but He loves the individual. You need to know that. Jesus cares for you. Karl Barth was asked by a journalist how he would summarize the millions of words he had published. Without hesitation he answered, “Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” We don’t have Peter, but we have the Word to tell us, Jesus cares.
Third, this shows Jesus is able. No one else can give us eternal life and present us to the Father as a justified sinner. Jn 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” The moment you cast yourself on His mercy, He is, even in that moment healing you. Immediately. Without delay. And while physical healing may or may not immediately accompany spiritual healing, it is part of the package. Phil 3:20-21: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” No other religious leader has that resurrected, living, glorified body. So no one else can make these promises but Jesus alone.
He says “rise and make your bed” (34b). Peter’s point is, “You’re not going to be needing that anymore. You can roll it out again tonight, but your bedridden days are over.” Contrary to modern faith healers, this healing is immediate and complete. It is an irrefutable indication of the resurrection power of Jesus – and it confirms His claim to be the only way to the Father.
In 1994, Reuters News reported on a London man who needed gall bladder surgery – simple procedure these days. But he feared docs and hospitals in the extreme. So he got a textbook, a mirror and some anesthesia and performed the surgery on himself – or tried. He survived surgery, but got an infection and died. The coroner said, “Sadly, his drastic remedy went wrong. A simple operation would’ve solved the problem.” So a living, loving, able Jesus, who has died for you will trade his righteousness for your sin – if you will turn to Him. But He is the only way. His is the only atoning death. His is the only redeeming resurrection and His is the only power to heal.
III. The Regeneration Aeneas Exhibited
But, now, watch this. Peter credits Jesus for this healing. It is God, through the death and resurrection of Christ, that makes physical and spiritual renewal possible. He initiates it; He bought and paid for it; and He offers it.
But look at v. 34: Peter says, “Rise and make your bed. And immediately he rose.” Do you see the irony here? Peter says, “Get up.” What would the logical response have been? “Peter, are you crazy? I haven’t been out of this bed for 8 years. Eight years, Peter. Even if there was nothing wrong with my legs, after 8 years, I’d never be able to stand without rehab. You’re asking the impossible.” Who would have blamed Aeneas for such a reaction? Yet, “immediately he rose.” What does that take? That takes faith, Beloved.
Jesus did the same thing. He met a man with a withered hand, probably from birth. His hand was useless. But Jesus said, Mark 3:5b: “Stretch out your hand.” He might have said, “Say what? I can’t stretch out this hand. It’s useless.” He might have said that. But instead Mark 3:5c: “He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Took a lot of faith to do that, didn’t it?
But what if he hadn’t stretched it out? What if Aeneas had said, “I can’t get up.” Then there would have been no healing. No rejuvenation. It takes faith to unleash the renewal Jesus offers. Not, as many believe, blind faith. These folks had heard of Jesus miracles. It’s not faith in nothing. But it is faith in the word of Christ – faith in the Word of God. That releases God’s power.
All true believers accept, by faith, that Jesus is as good as His promises. If God could raise Him from the dead, He can deliver on His promise to give and sustain us in new life in Christ. But we have to get up; we have to reach out. When Aeneas stood up, he exhibited the regeneration that had already taken place in his body and in his soul.
Steve Jamison, John Wooden’s biographer, was impressed by Wooden’s faith he’d soon see his wife in heaven. He says, “I asked him questions about his faith. I asked, ‘What does heaven look like?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ Then I asked, ‘What does God look like?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, but I know he is real.’” It wasn’t blind faith. He knew bc God raised Jesus from the dead, he could do the same for him. He was reaching out to the humanly impossible in simple, childlike faith. And a few months later, on June 4, 2010, John did re-join his wife in heaven having by faith accepted the offer of eternal life by faith in the death of Jesus Christ in his place. Have you reached out? In faith?
IV. The Revival the Residents Experienced
Aeneas’ healing was not for him alone. 35 “And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” Lydda was the little village; Sharon was a plain or plateau extending all along the coast of Palestine. News of this event spread and many “turned to the Lord.” Another little fire of revival breaks out. No doubt this was the result not only of Aeneas’ healing, but of the previous preaching that Philip had done in this area.
Peter’s ministry in a little place to a little person got results he’d never have imagined. Chuck Noll – 4-time SB champion said, “Champions are champions not bc they do anything extraordinary but because they do the ordinary things better than anyone else.” That’s what God seeks – faithfulness. People who will let Him work thru their ordinary!
And notice the result. They “turned to the Lord.” That’s repentance, turning from one way to going another. Turning from Cheyenne to head to Denver. Believers have turned to the Lord from self-centeredness. They’ve given all of themselves to get all of Christ, and life changed.
Conc – So, have you come to grips with the hopelessness of your eternal future outside of Jesus? Do you know he died for you and will forgive your sin and guilt if you just ask? Have you reached out in faith – not blind faith, but faith resting on the God who raised His own Son from the dead and now offers you that same saving power? When you do, life will change forever – just like Aeneas’ life changed forever when he put his bed away.
It was Christmas, and the grumpy guy at the airport was tired of the fake trees and mistletoe at the check-in desk. He told the attendant, “Even if we were married, I would not want to kiss you under such ugly mistletoe.” She said, “Sir, look more closely where the mistletoe is located.” He replied, “Okay – right above the luggage scale where you’d have to step forward to get a kiss.” She said, “That’s not why it’s there.” He said, “Okay, I give up. Why is it there?” She replied, “It’s there so you can kiss your luggage good-bye.”
So, have you kissed your spiritual luggage good-bye? All those things you’ve loved more than Jesus – are you ready to let them go for the life He offers? Jesus says in Mt 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” No room for extra baggage there, but the life you get on the other side is of infinitely greater value. Giving up a little in time for a lot in eternity is the wise investment. Getting Jesus in the bargain is best of all. Let’s pray.