Acts 9: 32 – 43 Aeneas and Dorcas
As Peter travelled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralysed and had been bedridden for eight years. ‘Aeneas,’ Peter said to him, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became ill and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, ‘Please come at once!’
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood round him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented them to her alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
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This passage records two striking miracles carried out through St Peter.
In the first, a man named Aeneas had been paralysed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him: ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.’ And immediately Aeneas got up.
In the second, a woman disciple named Tabitha, had a ministry of kindness and generosity towards the poor. She had become ill and died. Peter prayed, and then told the woman to get up. She opened her eyes and sat up. Peter helped her stand, and called for the believers to come and greet her.
Each of these healings had the result that many people turned to the Lord.
It’s noteworthy that these healings were done through Peter. There was a community of the Lord’s people in Lydda, and Aeneas, with his need for healing, lived there. And yet Aeneas wasn’t healed until Peter was present. Likewise, when Tabitha died, the local disciples sent urgently for Peter. The local church could do nothing except grieve, but Peter’s intervention enabled healing.
Why was Peter’s presence necessary?
I don’t know, but I’ve thought and prayed about divine healing quite a lot over many years. Healings seem to occur at times of church growth. The two described here led to many people turning to the Lord. They happen, not merely because we want them to happen, but as signs of God’s power. Healings happen when God wills it and not otherwise. To have the gift of healing, therefore, means you must be so well in touch with the Holy Spirit that you can hear when he tells you to heal someone.
Look at Peter’s healing of Tabitha.
“Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.”
Even for Peter, raising someone from death was a big deal. He must have felt that he needed to be certain of God’s will before he did anything at all. Hence, he sent them all out, and prayed. Only after he had prayed did he address Tabitha. Miraculously, she was healed!
Result – “This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.”
Prayer for healing shouldn’t be treated as a process for meeting human needs. It’s not what we want that matters, but what God wants. That said, I’m sure that God welcomes our prayers for the sick as expressions of our human love for the sick person.
I suggest, too, that there is one time when we can actively look for healings, and that is when the church is being renewed. Under those circumstances, a healing ministry may well be what God wants. However, it will require much prayer, and much sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and much obedience if it is to happen. It will also require the church to proclaim the healings. Then, and only then, might we be able to say “This became known all over my home town, and many people believed in the Lord!”
Thank you that life and healing and goodness flow from you, through your Holy Spirit. Help us, please, to listen to you, and to obey you, that your will may be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
In Jesus’ name, Amen