Faithlife Sermons

Bored to Death

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:23
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The Time I Fell Forever

There I was, working on the tree house. We had a three story tree house… and no it wasn’t that awesome, but it was awesome. It was constantly falling apart and we were constantly fixing it.
So I was working on adding a railing and leaning out over that railing to nail in the very same railing that I was leaning on. Smart.
I overbalanced, tipped over and began to head straight down, head-first, towards the ground.
And then time stopped. Or I stopped. My brother and best friend looked up from below. My brother tells this story, he thought I had learned to fly.
I very quickly realized a very different truth. The nail I had been hammering had caught in the inseam of my jeans and I was hanging suspended from that one spot.

Paul Sails for Troy

Recap the riot.
Paul had “resolved in the Spirit” to go to Macedonia.
Acts 20:1 ESV
After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.
Acts 20:2–3 ESV
When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
When it says “Greece”, this is the Roman province of Greece, capital Corinth. So think the “Corinthians” Paul previously was there at least a year and a half. Now he spends another three months there.
Acts 20:4–6 ESV
Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.
All these folks, the missionary team. We get what reads like “the story of Paul”, but there is a whole crew working here. God using the church to build His Church.
From Ephesus to Troas, up to Philippi, over to Corinth, back to Philippi, back to Troas.
So, there they are, for a week at Troas.
This is where Paul had the vision of the “Man of Macedonia” and first had the call to go to Philippi, which led to Corinth, which led to Athens.
But my favorite connection with “Troas”… is that Troas is built on the ruins (or 4 miles from the ruins) of “Troy” by the remnant of the Trojans after the destruction of that city in the Trojan war… the one with the famous Trojan horse! How cool is that! History stacked on top of history, legend on top of legend!
There Paul is. For seven days. He has already witnessed there, there is already a church there. And notice, Luke is back on the team, the “we narrative”, the “we language” has picked back up.
Acts 20:7 ESV
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
“On the first day”.
Fifty years ago some sought to use this text as a “proof text” of Sunday Sabbath keeping by the early church. There is no evidence of this here. Indeed, if Luke is using the Jewish sense of “the evening of the first day” this would be what we call Saturday night… but usually Luke seems to use Jewish naming of days but Roman/Greek references to time of day.
And all of that is irrelevant, because this verse doesn’t speak to weekly day of worship at all.
No. The model here is that they have been preaching and teaching all week long. And Paul is about to leave, so they went extra long on this day, past sundown, into midnight… Way long. In fact...
Acts 20:8 ESV
There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered.
This is a rare thing. People went to bed with the sun. Lamps were expensive. This is pulling out all the stops. And lamps, oil lamps, they don’t burn clean. These are people putting up with a smoky room, poorly and expensively lit, in order to keep on hearing Paul.
So… of course they have the windows open...
And there is “young” Eutychus. How young? We don’t know, means after puberty but probably before marriage. Anywhere from 15 to maybe in his 30s… but let’s say it’s Logan.
Ironically “Eutychus” literally means “fortunate”. Let’s see how fortunate:
Acts 20:9 ESV
And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.
How young is Eutychus? Don’t know.
On and on Paul talks. On and on… on… and on… Eutychus is a sport. He’s been there for hours upon hours. He is listening, but he can’t help it, he nods off.
Normally that is a silly anecdote, the time I fell asleep in church. I know a dozen of you have done that, but Eutychus sits in the wrong place, leans the wrong way, three stories up, and next thing he knows!
Fell 30 feet. Of course they thought he was dead.
Who’s talking here? Dr. Luke. That boy’s dead.
Acts 20:10 ESV
But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.”
I believe this is a resurrection. Some people argue whether he was really really dead… but this reminds me of Jesus saying “oh, she’s only sleeping...” His life is in him.
And then...
They went BACK TO CHURCH!!!
Acts 20:11 ESV
And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.
Acts 20:12 ESV
And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.
How thirsty were they for the things of God, for the Word of God???
Why did Luke tell this story?
He was there… and you don’t forget the time a young man fell asleep in a sermon, fell out a window, died and was resurrected! That is a story that needs to be told!
But it’s amazing to me how little focus there is on the miracle of Eutychus. Immediately they all went back to church! I bet they brought all their questions about what just happened.
Hey, Paul, how’d you do that?
And he taught them things.
What was so good that people would stay up all night to hear it?
What was so desirable that they would literally burn the midnight oil?
What could Paul say that was so fascinating that it could continue to be the highlight of the night after seeing a boy fall out a window, die and resurrect?

What was Paul saying?

I think we know what Paul was saying. Not because we have a transcript, we don’t. And we don’t have a letter to the “Trojans” reminding him what he taught them.
But do you remember the cities that Paul just toured before and after Troas? The Philippians, the Corinthians, the Ephesians… and to them he writes things like “remember when I was with you, I said… I taught… I told you… when I first preached to you...”
The Book of Ephesians in particular, because if you remember way back to our series in Ephesians, the earliest manuscripts don’t say “to the church in Ephesus”, but it was likely a letter to all the churches in the region. If a different copy was preserved maybe we would remember it as the Book of Trojans.
They are hearing about unity in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, one in mind, body, in Spirit, one Father, one Son, one Spirit, one God. How that translates into parents loving children, children obeying parents, husbands and wives… they are learning about spiritual warfare and the armor of God...
They are learning, as the Corinthians did, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how they all work together to form the Body of Christ, and you are all members of One Body...
This is all pouring out of Paul, because he is writing some of these letters at these same times, and they are hearing it for the first time...
Can you imagine!!!? They hadn’t read this before, heard this before, this is gold, this is discipleship, this is God speaking, inspiring, revealing Himself through even a sinful and flawed man like Paul.
They are hearing this… and they know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Eutychus, light the lamps, we aren’t quitting tonight! We want to hear every word. I hope someone is writing this down.
Eutychus means “fortunate.” No irony.
For them, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear Paul, and through him to hear the words and teachings of Jesus, and it all points to Jesus.
That’s all they had. Most, for the rest of their lives. Treasuring up those remembered words. Maybe they got some of the letters going around. That was the spiritual food, added to hearing the readings of the Hebrew Scriptures if they were lucky.
That’s all they had.
Can you imagine being that hungry? That thirsty? That desperate for the Word of God?

An Embarrassment of Riches

Let’s be embarrassed for a moment for how good we have it.
Most of Christianity for most of history didn’t have access to any of this. They were lucky to catch a glimpse of a written word of Scripture. Fortunate to hear it, maybe in a language they spoke if they were born in the right place and the right century.
We have it in 47 translations in our pockets. What did Paul say to the Corinthians? Here is is, complete with a wealth of wise scholars to help me analyze and understand it…
“Okay Google”, what did Paul say to the Ephesians?
How incredible is that???
What they stayed up all night to hear, desperate for to the point of fighting sleep, pulling an all nighter, we have at our fingertips, for the asking.
And not just the Word itself. We have the best preachers in the world on the YouTube ready to teach it to us, explain it to us, lead us to water, help pour the water in our mouth, here it is...
Are you bored to sleep, like Eutychus?
We have an embarrassment of riches!
Maybe because we have such easy access… we take it for granted. And we can go days, weeks, months, without feeling the need. Oh, it’s there if I wanted it, but I’m okay. I’m comfortable. I know it well enough. I’ve heard it all before.
May God kick us right out of comfort zone. Right out of our comfortable window seat to life and church and discipleship. If our way of doing church has us comfortable all the time with how everything is going… I think we are doing it wrong!
These people were desperate for the Word of God… and then they would get terrified at what God was asking them to do, to love to an uncomfortable degree, to confront sin to a radical level… confronting sin in society and sin in themselves… it looked like taking up a cross and following Jesus to death… and then they would panic and Paul or someone would remind them that they walk in the Victory of Jesus no matter what...
and they again were desperate for the encouragement of the Word of God. And again direction from the Word. It is a cycle of faith and doubt leading to greater faith… it is a cycle of courage in the face of challenges, it is encouragement because the world discourages you and it is God’s truth because the enemy will lie to you and about you.
None of that sounds comfortable!
Here I am encouraged.
I am encouraged that I hear the people of Next Step crying out for discipleship. The hunger is there. The thirst is there. The desperation is there.
And we are and will pursue all sorts of new things in response. We can grow in discipling one another, mentoring one another, small groups and life groups and spiritual disciplines. It is not a question of not having options, church we have an embarrassment of riches in seeking to grow in God’s Word...
Most Christians are satisfied living as common Christians, without an insatiable hunger for the deeper things of God.
A real danger is that we go back to “normal life” and “normal church.” That we lose this opportunity.
But may God continue to awaken our desperate thirst for it. May we never lose it, not because we don’t continue to grow in discipleship, but because we refuse “comfortable Christianity.”
We hunger and thirst for the Word of God, may we burn the midnight oil to get it.
We hunger and thirst for the Love of God, may we be willing to die to learn it.
We hunger and thirst to hear from Him.
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