Footsteps of the Master

Posted: October 14, 2018 in Acts, Uncategorized

Acts 9:32-43, “Footsteps of the Master”

 

WWJD?  It was all the rage for a while, with Christians wearing wristbands, with the intent of constantly reminding to ask oneself, “What would Jesus do?”  The question came from Charles Sheldon’s classic In His Steps, in which a pastor of a small town challenges his congregation to ask themselves that very question before they made any significant decision.  Everything was to be evaluated in light of Jesus, to see if it matched up with His character and His word.  (That said, the revival of the phrase in the early 2000’s lost a lot of its impact.  It became a fad & fashion trend, rather than a heart-felt question.  Even then, many times the better question is “What would Jesus have us to do?” considering that Jesus did certain things that we will never duplicate, such as dying on the cross as the perfect substitution and sacrifice for mankind.)

 

Whatever one thinks of the fad, there’s an element of the idea that it totally valid.  When Jesus called the twelve to be His disciples, what did He say to them?  “Follow Me.”  When Paul appealed to the Corinthians in their disobedience, what did he write to them? “Follow me as I follow Christ,” (1 Cor 11:1).  At a certain point, we do need to ask “What would Jesus do?” – we need to follow in the footsteps of our Master if we are to live the life He desires for us.

 

We get a sense of this in Jesus’ own ministry, as He trained His disciples and sent them out on a short-term mission trip around Judea. Luke 9:1–2, “(1) Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. (2) He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” What does that sound like?  Like the ministry of Jesus!  This was what Jesus did all around Galilee & Judea, and He empowered His disciples to do the same.  None of that stopped with Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension…it continued!  When Jesus gave the Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations, part of that included teaching people “to observe all things that I have commanded you,” (Mt 28:20).  Thus, the disciples (and all of us) were still to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, doing what He did, teaching what He taught.

 

We see all of that play out in the book of Acts with the apostles of the early church, particularly with Peter.  Although Peter gets a lot of flack for being impetuous and seemingly a bit foolhardy in the gospels (which he wasn’t – at least not more than any of us, but that’s another story!), the book of Acts shows Peter as nothing less than a shining example of what it looks like to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.  If we were to sum up the work of Peter in the book of Acts, we could say it like this: Peter did what Jesus did.  That’s exactly what we see in this transitional point in the book.

 

Because this is a transition within the book of Acts, we need to get a bit of review and overview.  Remember that Luke gave his readers a broad outline of the book when he quoted some of Jesus’ last words to the disciples prior to His ascension: Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In Chapters 1-7, we saw the apostles (and church) as witnesses to Jerusalem.  There was the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost where Peter preached the gospel and 3000 people were saved.  There was the constant devotion of the church to doctrine, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer, and people were daily added to the church.  There was the healing of the paralyzed man at the Jerusalem temple, which led to another preaching opportunity for Peter & John (as well as opposition from the Jewish leadership).  Things continued along these lines until Stephen became the first Christian martyred to death, and Saul began his work of persecution in earnest.  It was then that the gospel began to spread to all Judea and Samaria, with Philip (as a specific example) first preaching the gospel to the Samaritans in Acts 8. Luke followed Philip’s ministry for just a bit, and then narrated Saul’s conversion to the faith as he came face to face with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and quickly had his own first beginnings in Christian evangelism and ministry.

 

Thus far, evangelism had been mostly contained to those of Jewish faith & background.  There have been a few hints at some other ethnicities (Philip among Samaria & with the Ethiopian eunuch), but it has primarily been to the Jews, in the areas that Jesus had described.  The gospel is about to break open a whole new mission field in Chapter 10!  But before we get there, Luke describes how it came about.  For that, he has to transition back to Peter and his mission activity around Judea and Samaria.  The last time we saw Peter, he had gone to Samaria at Philip’s request, prayed that they would receive the Holy Spirit (which they did), and chastised Simon the sorcerer who had tried to bribe his way into the ministry.  After that, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, while preaching the gospel through the rest of the Samaritan villages on their way back home. (Acts 8:25)

 

What happened after that?  That’s what Luke takes up next.  Peter stayed active in ministry, following in the footsteps of Jesus.  He worked miracles, and one miracle led to another.  One witness led to another.  And THAT witness led to the expansion of the Great Commission.  When Christians are active, Jesus is known!

 

Christian: Do what Peter did.  What did Peter do?  Peter did what Jesus did.  He served in the opportunities God gave him, and as he did, Jesus was known.  Don’t get complacent; get active!  Do what Jesus did so that Jesus can be known!

 

Acts 9:32–43

  • Healing Aeneas / Legs to the Lame (32-35)

32 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, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.

  1. As to when all of these took place, we really don’t have much of an idea. Luke simply writes, “Now it came to pass,” which is about as general a description as it can get.  If we were to judge things chronologically by what Luke had just written about Saul, then it would have been some time after the three years following Saul’s conversion outside of Damascus.  Remember Saul was converted, spent some time getting discipled and preaching, went to Arabia for several years, came back to Damascus, had to escape Damascus, went to Jerusalem, and had to escape Jerusalem and get sent back to Tarsus.  (Saul did a lot of escaping!)  That said, we don’t know if Luke’s narrative picks up from that point, or if he looks back to an earlier period of time, perhaps while Saul is still in Arabia.  Luke’s goal isn’t to pinpoint this to a particular month and year; it’s to show the continued spread of the gospel and the obedience of the apostles in their ministry.
  2. And Peter was being obedient! Although he had returned to Jerusalem from Samaria, Peter started up again and traveled outside of Jerusalem.  Lydda is modern day Lod, approx. 23-25 miles northwest of Jerusalem.  It was a major city then (as today) – a natural place for Peter to go in order to preach the gospel.
  3. There, Peter found the “” Apparently the gospel had already come to Lydda (how, we don’t know), and Peter spent some time ministering to them – most likely in doctrinal teaching. 
    1. The term “saints” is interesting. Earlier in Acts, Ananias of Damascus referred to Christians as saints (9:13).  Luke uses the same term here.  Saints = ἅγιος = “holy one / holy.”  In Rev 4:8, when the angelic creatures surround God’s throne proclaiming His praises, they declare: “Ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος”; “Holy, holy, holy.”  God is utterly holy, pure, & righteous, completely set apart from anything else.  Guess what?  By His grace, God makes us what He is.  We who were defiled & profane have been made holy.  We have been set apart for God’s use and God’s glory by God’s grace in Jesus.  You aren’t a saint because you are a good person, deserving of the title – you aren’t a saint because some church council voted and decided to give you the title after your death; you’re a saint because Jesus made you a saint!  You have been made holy by the grace of God…nothing less will do!
  4. How did Peter discover/find Aeneas? We don’t know.  Perhaps Peter just happened upon him – maybe Peter was led directly by the Holy Spirit.  Whether directly or indirectly, this was no-doubt a God-ordained encounter.  Aeneas was in a bad situation.  He wasn’t born lame (unlike the man at the temple gate in Acts 3), but although his exact illness is unknown, it must have been bad for him to have been bedridden for eight whole years.  By this point, he was basically hopeless.  He had likely given up any thought of ever walking again.  Can you imagine it?  Those with chronic illnesses have an idea what it was like.  One day, things aren’t feeling so right, and it progresses & progresses until your life has completely changed.  Doctors offer little help – perhaps a prescription to mask the pain or a surgery with small results, but that’s it.  After a while, “change” isn’t even on your mind – it’s not a possibility.  That’s where Aeneas was.  At this point, we don’t know if Aeneas was a Christian or if he knew Peter – all we know is that when Peter found the saints in Lydda, he also found Aeneas.  What we do know is that for the first time in eight years, Aeneas’ life was about to be radically changed.  And it would have nothing to do with Peter, and everything to do with Jesus

 

34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.

  1. Peter met Aeneas, and Peter healed Aeneas in the name of Jesus Christ. Again, so many of the details are missing.  We don’t read of the Holy Spirit speaking to Peter the way the Spirit did to Philip (Acts 8:29), or of Jesus instructing Peter what to do the way Jesus instructed Ananias (Acts 9:11).  All we read is Peter seeing a need, and taking the initiative by taking a step of faith – just as what happened when he and John saw the other paralyzed man in the temple gate in Jerusalem (Acts 3:6).  God had blessed Peter with a ministry of healings, to the point that people brought out their sick to him hoping that even his shadow might fall on them (Acts 5:15).  Peter had seen Jesus do all kinds of work in the past, and Peter knew Jesus could do it again, so he stepped out in faith.  God gave him an opportunity, and he seized it with both hands.
    1. Too often, we let our opportunities pass us by. We think, “Oh, wouldn’t that be great if the Lord decided to act!” but we don’t take the next step of obedience under the possibility that God might use us while He acts.  Take a step of faith, and see what God does.  It’s not about us making a name for ourselves (if that’s our motivation, we can be sure God won’t use us at all!); it’s about Jesus being known.  It might not be a supernatural miracle, but it can still be a powerful act.  It could be prayer when it’s most needed – food to someone who’s hungry – yardwork to a neighbor who can’t do it – or simply (most importantly!) the gospel to someone right in front of us.  We don’t need to wait for someone else to come along & do it; we can step out in faith and act.  When God gives you opportunities, take them!
  2. Again, Peter healed Aeneas in the name of Jesus Christ (or Jesus the Christ, depending on your translation). What does this tell us?  Peter didn’t heal Aeneas; Jesus did.  Peter did not even claim to have the ability to heal; that power belongs solely to Christ Jesus.  (When Jesus empowers us through the Spirit to heal, He does so at His will & His pleasure.  There is no example in the New Testament of anyone (other than Jesus) who had the permanent gift of healing, because no one who healed is recorded doing it all their life.  There’s too much danger for ego and pride to develop.)  But the point? Jesus, the one crucified yet risen from the dead, healed Aeneas.
    1. Notice that Peter specifically used Christ as a title, which it is. Often, people think of it as one of Jesus’ names, but it’s a title meaning “Anointed One.” It refers to the Messiah King of all Israel: the Son of God who is equal with God who has all the power of God and who will return in the glory of God to rule over the kingdom of God.  Today, people use “Christ” as a curse word; it’s anything but!  That Jesus is the Christ is one of the most glorious truths we can imagine.  All power/authority in heaven and earth resides in Jesus because Jesus is the Christ!
    2. He has power to heal, He has power to forgive, and He has power to save. Trust Jesus as the Christ, and trust Him to save you!
  3. Notice that Jesus did it at that very moment. It’s not that Jesus had healed Aeneas back at the cross, and Peter just declared it at the time. The word is in the present tense “Jesus the Christ heals you,” or “is healing you,” (although Jesus’ healing does not take time).  Why is that important?  Jesus could currently heal because Jesus is currently alive.  His presence in heaven does not hinder His power on earth.  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Too often we pray to Jesus or think of Jesus as if He’s dead. Not so!  Jesus may be in heaven, but He is fully alive!  There is nothing He cannot do.  When Jesus declared from the cross “It is finished,” He referred to the work of sacrifice (propitiation & expiation = satisfying the wrath of God, and wiping out the judgment of sin); it’s not as if Jesus now has nothing to do.  It’s not as if Jesus sat down at the right hand of God and has been twiddling His thumbs for 2000 years!  Jesus is alive, He’s active, and He’s powerful!  Jesus works in this present day, interceding for us to God, preparing an eternal home for us to be with Him, preparing to come back in power and glory, and much more.  And yes, Jesus currently heals people today.  How & when is up to Him, but He can do it!
  4. How long did it all take? No time at all.  Aeneas’ healing was immediate.  Eight years of infirmity were gone in an instant.  All the muscular atrophy was healed and his full strength was restored.  Aeneas was able, at that very moment to stand up, bend over, and pick up his mat to go home.  What other people had done for him for nearly a decade, he was immediately able to do for himself.
    1. BTW – What was the only thing that would have stopped Aeneas from doing this? If he refused to rise.  Of course his healing was not dependent on his faith – according to Peter, that had presently been granted by Jesus.  Yet Aeneas could have acted according to his former paralysis, despite his received healing.
    2. Do we walk in the grace & power that Jesus has promised and given? Do we believe Him at His word?
  5. Thinking upon this healing, did Peter make this up?   Again, Peter had been used by the Lord many times in the past to heal.  But most importantly, Peter had learned it earlier. This was what Jesus had done many times in His own ministry, which Peter had seen firsthand.  John 5 tells of another man who had become sick and lame in his feet – not for 8 years, but for 38 years.  Although he desired healing, he had lost all hope of it…and that’s when he met Jesus. John 5:7–9, “(7) The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” (8) Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” (9) And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.” And that was just one of many!  Jesus was known for His healing abilities, and people came from all over the region to see Him.  For three years, Peter witnessed this & learned. Peter wasn’t inventing something new on the spot; he was walking in the footsteps of his Master & Lord.  What had Jesus done?  That’s what Peter was determined to do.  Peter was a servant of Christ the King, an ambassador of Messiah Jesus, thus Peter wanted to represent Jesus at every opportunity & that meant doing what Jesus had called and equipped him to do.
    1. Walk in the footsteps of your Master! We haven’t seen as much as Peter, but we see all we need to see in the pages of Scripture.  Do what Jesus did, in Jesus’ name, as Jesus leads & as Jesus equips.

 

35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

  1. The miracle became a powerful witness to whole region. Lydda was the primary city in the plain of Sharon.  People from all around came to faith in Christ because of what had happened in Lydda.  And why wouldn’t they? Miracles are powerful things, and there is a Person behind that power.  When a person’s life is changed, and that individual can point to Jesus, then it tells other people that Jesus can change their lives too.
    1. This still happens today! Guess what? Conversions are miracles, and they are just as powerful!  Your transformed life can be used to help people turn to the Lord in faith.  All you need to do is simply give Jesus the credit.
  2. Notice how the people around Lydd and Sharon came to faith: they “turned to the Lord.” The word speaks of how the people changed their minds about Jesus, and changed their direction.  This is the essence of repentance!  We often think of repentance as sorrow & contrition (and there is an element of that!), but a person can be sorry about his/her sin without doing anything about it.  You can walk around feeling guilty and sorrow that you’ve rebelled against God without actually surrendering your life to God with a desire to change.  Paul writes about the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow.  The sorrow of the world leads only to death, but godly sorrow produces repentance (2 Cor 7:10).  When a person comes to faith in Christ, it’s not because they were merely sorry; it’s because they repented.  They changed their mind regarding their sin.  They turned away from their own selfish desires & turned to the Lord Jesus in faith, putting all of their hope & trust in Jesus to forgive and to save.  That’s what the people of Lydda & Sharon did.

 

  • Healing Tabitha / Life to the Dead (36-43)

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

  1. The scene changes from Lydda to Joppa. Joppa is modern-day Tel Aviv-Jofa, around 10 miles west from Lydda (Lod).  It’s on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and was the launching point for Jonah on his ill-fated attempted trip to Tarshish (Spain).  Like Lydda, there was a group of Christians there, and they had a close-knit community.
  2. Among them was Tabitha/Dorcas (Aramaic/Greek for “gazelle”). Like many of her day, she had two names (Simon Peter, Saul/Paul); she was probably called “Dorcas” day-to-day by her neighbors. The Aramaic version of her name becomes important to Peter regarding her healing.  Like Aeneas, along the line she had contracted some sort of illness, but unlike Aeneas, hers ended in her death.  We’re told nothing of her disease or of her age.  Some unknown sickness killed her, and her body was treated according to Jewish custom – it was washed, laid in a room for people to grieve, and waited for her burial.
  3. Although we don’t know much of the details of her illness, we are told of her character. This woman had a wonderful reputation.  Dorcas was a good woman who did “good works and charitable deeds.”  It’s true that no one (and nothing) is truly good but God (Mt 19:17), but none of this speaks of any merit-based salvation.  This is just common terminology for her kindness to widows and her general character.  She was just a kind woman that everyone loved, and that everyone would greatly miss.
  4. We know one other thing about Dorcas: her faith. She was made good in the sight of God, because Luke tells us she was a “” She had faith in the Lord Jesus, even way off in Joppa. As it had in Lydda, the gospel had gone also to Joppa.  There, Dorcas and others were saved, and they made an impact on the people around them.

 

38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.

  1. Although Joppa was 10 miles away, remember that the news of Aeneas’ healing had spread to the whole region of Sharon, so it’s not surprising that the Christians of Joppa heard about it. (In the grand scheme of things, 10 miles isn’t all that far – easily travelled in a day.)  With Dorcas dead and Peter so close, the Christians decided to send for him, urging him to come and help.
  2. Question: If Dorcas was dead, what was the urgency? Simple: She was dead.  Although Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave, they wanted Peter to do something for Dorcas before she was buried.  The sooner Peter got there, the better.  Culturally speaking, three days would pass before someone was considered fully-dead (which was the reason Jonah’s time in the great fish was three days, and his release was like a resurrection – also prefiguring Jesus’ time in the grave). With Dorcas dead and 10 miles to travel between towns, no time could be wasted.
  3. Note: This means that the Joppa disciples had faith that Peter would be able to raise Dorcas from the dead. Why else would they call for an apostle/prophet after someone had died?  Sure, Peter could minister to the Christian community and comfort them in grief, but there wouldn’t be such the dire urgency.  They knew Peter could offer some sort of miracle in the situation, and they didn’t waste time.  That raises a couple of questions.
    1. Question #1: Was their faith in Jesus, or falsely placed in Peter? Likely Jesus.  It’s clear that they were born-again believers (disciples), so even without perfect theology, it’s doubtful that they would get this wrong.  If they had, surely Peter would have addressed it before doing anything.
    2. Question #2: Why didn’t they try to heal Dorcas or raise her from the dead? We don’t know that they didn’t.  Maybe they had prayed for Dorcas during her sickness to no avail, and thought Peter would be better equipped by the Lord to help. There are many times we pray, and it seems that God doesn’t answer our prayers (at least, not in the way we hoped).  It doesn’t mean we’re “lesser” Christians, any more than it meant those at Joppa were somehow deficient.  They just needed extra help.  We’re all part of the body of Christ, and we all need one another.  If there’s something you can’t see done in prayer, ask another believer to pray with you.  If you need help in a spiritual struggle, have someone come alongside you.  That’s part of what it means to be in a church: the called-out ones, put together by Christ Jesus.  We bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).

 

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

  1. Peter went and found the widows “weeping” (crying, bewailing). Although it was not uncommon in the culture to hire professional mourners for the dead, this doesn’t seem to have been the case.  These were women personally impacted by Dorcas.  They were widows, which meant they were among the poorest of the poor in their city.  Apparently Dorcas had made clothes for them to help provide for them.  As they grieved, they showed Peter all that Dorcas had done, and they were brokenhearted for how much they would miss her.
  2. Genuine grief is natural with death, even if we do not grieve as the rest of the world. We don’t sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Ths 4:13).  When our loved one is in Christ, and we are in Christ, we will be reunited in heaven as we all join together in our worship of God.  Even so, we still grieve, and weeping is natural.  Even Jesus wept at a funeral, and He was about to raise Lazarus out of the grave!
  3. So put it all together: Peter was in the middle of a ministry journey, already being used by Jesus to work miracles. He was urgently called to Joppa for a specific miracle with the death of the beloved Dorcas.  Peter knows what the people expect him to do, and the time had come.  What happens next is absolutely key. 

 

40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.

  1. What happened? Peter did what Jesus did.  Peter had witnessed Jesus do this exact thing in His own ministry, and Peter followed in Jesus’ footsteps. Mark 5:38–42, “(38) Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. (39) When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” (40) And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. (41) Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” (42) Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.”  Originally, when Jesus had arrived in this town, the leader of the synagogue (Jairus) had rushed to come to Him, because his daughter was sick.  Jesus and the disciples went with Jairus, but was delayed along the way when a chronically ill woman with a hemorrhage was healed when she reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.  While Jesus comforted her, some of Jairus’ friends arrived with the sad news that his daughter had died.  Jesus encouraged Jairus to continue to have faith, went on to the house, and proceeded to heal the girl.  All three of the Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) contain the story, and each tell it a bit differently.  Mark gives the Aramaic words Jesus spoke (remember this!), and Luke gives the detail that Jesus took only Peter, James, and John with Him into the room with the girl (Lk 8:51).  Peter was a firsthand witness to this miracle, had seen exactly what Jesus did, and knew the time had come for him to do the same thing.  Peter wasn’t being presumptuous; he was simply acting as a disciple of his Master, walking in the footsteps of Jesus.
  2. Specifically, what happened?
    1. Peter got alone. Like Jesus, he put everyone outside the room.  This wasn’t a time for commotion or drama – it wasn’t a time to call attention to himself to show others how “holy” he was.  (It certainly wasn’t a time to pass the plate and ask for a faith offering!)  Peter was trusting Jesus would work in this situation, just as Jesus had worked with Aeneas, and Peter needed to be alone with Jesus in order to avoid the distraction and hype.
    2. Peter prayed. There’s no word in the Synoptic gospels of Jesus praying in Jairus’ house, although Jesus was known for His habit of prayer.  But it makes sense that Peter prayed.  After all, he wasn’t doing this under his own authority or initiative; the only way Peter would be able to do something is if God worked through Peter.  Thus, he bathed it in prayer.
    3. Peter followed the word of God. Although the New Testament is written in Greek, more often than not the Jews of the day spoke in Aramaic.  Mark was the only gospel writer that recorded Jesus’ Aramaic words in the moment: “Talitha cumi,” which meant “Little girl, arise.” What was it that Peter spoke in Aramaic? “Tabitha cumi.” One letter difference…appropriate for the moment.  Peter remembered what Jesus did, he remembered what Jesus said, and Peter did the same thing.
  3. What do we do when faced with an opportunity given us by the Lord? Do what Peter did, by doing what Jesus did.  Do it humbly, without hype – do it in prayer – do it according to God’s word.  Remember it’s not our ministry; it’s Jesus’ ministry.  We do it His way, according to His example, for His glory.

 

41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.

  1. Peter gave her back to her church family and friends, and they no doubt rejoiced and had a party. How could they not?  A miracle had been done by Jesus, and Jesus was to be praised!
  2. Jesus was also to be believed. As in Lydda, the miracle that took place in Joppa was another powerful witness of Jesus Christ.  Although we don’t know what Peter said when he presented Dorcas back to the others, Jesus obviously received all the glory.  After all, people didn’t believe upon Peter; they “believed on the Lord.”  They had known it was Jesus who acted, and they believed on Him through faith.
    1. This is the entire point of miracles! It’s never about the guy on TV waving around his coat, demanding money.  It’s not even like the well-meaning Christians who mistakenly believe in the power of “faith” to heal.  Faith doesn’t heal; Jesus heals.  The faith we have is in Him & His power; not our own.  Thus when we see miracles occur, the reason God gives them is so people can turn to Jesus in repentance and faith.  It’s not about miracles – it’s not about the men and women God uses to work miracles; it’s all about Jesus.
    2. What miracle has taken place in your life for which you’ve not given credit to Jesus? Whatever it is, you missed its purpose.  Many people become people of prayer in ER’s & ICU rooms.  People will beg Jesus for help when they get arrested.  They’ll become men & women of faith when stranded on the side of the road.  How often does Jesus get the credit when Jesus gives the rescue?  How long does faith last, after the prayer is answered?  For many people, they have faith enough for the moment, but not faith enough for beyond.  Which means they don’t have the right kind of faith: saving  Miracles are meant to take us to the Master, the Lord Jesus.  They proclaim His name and His glory, and we need to recognize them for what they are!
  3. Luke wraps up the account in verse 43…

 

43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

  1. Tanners work with animal carcasses, skinning the animals and making leather products. Considering that any Jew who touched a dead unclean animal was considered temporarily unclean (Lev 5:2), tanners who were Jewish were in a constant state of impurity.  So put it together what happened in Joppa: Simon Peter stayed with Simon the Tanner.  This was a big step for Peter! Already Peter’s heart was softened toward those who might otherwise be excluded from the congregation of Israel.  This sets the stage for Chapter 10.
  2. How long did Peter stay? “Many days.”  We don’t know.  Could have been a few days, a few weeks, or a few months.  However long it was, it was long as it needed to be for Cornelius to receive his vision and to send for Peter!

 

Conclusion:

As Chapter 9 concludes, Peter doesn’t know what Jesus has in store for him, but he made himself fully available to follow Jesus wherever He led.  Peter had stepped out in faith to travel the countryside preaching the gospel (just as Jesus did, and as Jesus had called him to do).  Peter stepped out in faith to heal the paralyzed Aeneas (just as Jesus did, and as Jesus had equipped him to do).  Peter stepped out in faith yet again to pray that Dorcas/Tabitha would be raised from the dead (just as Jesus did, and as Jesus led him to do).  Peter walked as Jesus walked, modeling the ministry of his Master, trusting that Jesus would lead him…and Jesus did!

 

And in the process, the gospel expanded and exploded across the region.  Of course it would – it couldn’t be otherwise!  When people see Jesus working, people come to faith in Jesus’ person.  When they see the result of Jesus transforming lives, they want their lives to be transformed, too.  How will they see that sort of transformation?  When they see you living as one who has been transformed!  When they see Jesus’ work in you, it opens the door for you to tell of Jesus’ gospel, and for them to be saved.

 

Christian: Step out in faith!  Don’t get complacent, expecting God to simply bring everything your way.  Get active, using the opportunities God has given you.  You have an example, not only in the apostles of the early church, but in Christ Jesus Himself.  Go serve others as Jesus leads and equips you to serve, giving credit to Jesus, and pointing to His salvation.  That’s following in the footsteps of our Master, and that’s something that every single born-again believer can do.

 

For others, the first step in following Jesus is to actually follow Him.  To date, you haven’t.  You’ve lived your life for yourself, doing the things you wanted to do, being the ruler of your own world.  Newsflash: you’re not a ruler; you’re in rebellion.  Almighty God is the ruler, having created you & given you life & breath.  Every good gift you have has been given you by God, and (like all of us at some point), you rebelled against Him with lies, anger, lusts, pride, blasphemy, and more.  But the good news is this: God offers you forgiveness through Jesus!  Today, you have the opportunity to turn to Christ in repentance and faith…do it!

 

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