As Peter traveled throughout the area, he went to visit the saints in Lydda.
I. THE RATIONALE OF THE CHRISTIAN MIRACLE, wrought in the apostolic age. Then it was (or seems to us to have been) necessary.
1. It was regarded as of the very essence of a new Divine system. Any doctrine which was to supersede the Law, and which did not carry with it the credentials of "wonderful works," would have had no prospect or possibility of success.
2. It was a power of great potency in the age in which it was granted. Witness the text, among many others: "All that dwelt at Lydda and Saron... turned to the Lord" (ver. 35); "It was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord" (ver. 42).
3. The early Church had to struggle against fearful odds, and might well be strengthened with a special and exceptional force. It had to contend with inveterate and all but impregnable prejudices, with powerful material interests, with worldly wisdom, with crushing political powers arrayed against it with drawn sword; it was a handful of weak men and women, destitute of resources, "unlearned and ignorant," against a world in arms, against many millions inflamed with passionate hatred or filled with supercilious contempt. At such a stage it might well be reinforced with such help as the miraculous would yield it.
II. THE EXPLANATION OF ITS DISCONTINUANCE. It was a power, very valuable when wisely used, but liable to great abuse. The time might soon come when its presence would be harmful rather than helpful, when Christian men would be disposed to rely on the marvelous rather than the spiritual. That time did come, and it came earlier than we might have thought (see 1 Corinthians). Therefore it was mercifully withdrawn. Its continuance would only have been to leave in the Church's hand a weapon by which it would have wounded itself.
III. ITS NEEDLESSNESS NOW. Now we should be able to dispense with such adventitious aid.
1. The wealth, the culture, the political power, the resources which give strength to human societies, are now on the side of Christian truth.
2. We are equipped with one weapon in particular which serves us instead of the miraculous - scientific knowledge and skill. The principal wonders which the apostles wrought were works of healing or restoring, like that of healing AEneas (ver. 34) and that of restoring Dorcas (vers. 40, 41). Now we are able to go to the heathen, with the Bible in one hand and the pharmacopoeia in the other, and thus we can impress, heal, and win them. The medical missionary of the nineteenth century is as well furnished for his beneficent work as the Corinthian Christian of the first.
IV. THE ABIDING PRESENCE OF THE DIVINE.
1. A power, distinctively Divine, still brings the dead to life. A more wonderful and far more blessed work is wrought when, to a soul "dead in trespasses and sins," Christ now says, "Arise," and it "opens its eyes" (ver. 40) to see light in God's light, to behold the truth in its excellency and power. More wonderful, because it is a greater work to revive a dead spirit than to resuscitate a dead body - the one act is in the kingdom of the moral, the other of the mechanical; more blessed, for eternal life is an inestimably greater boon to impart than the prolongation for a few years of earthly existence. Dorcas had to die again and be again bewailed.
2. A power, directly and positively Divine, still confers spiritual health on those who have been spiritually paralyzed. By his renewing power, by the touch of his own reviving hand, "Jesus Christ makes whole" (ver. 34) those who have been lethargic, indifferent, worldly, idle; and they arise. - C.
And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.1 Chronicles 8:12; Ezra 2:33; Nehemiah 7:37; Nehemiah 11:35), was a town in the rich plain of Sharon, one day's journey from Jerusalem, founded originally by settlers from the tribe of Benjamin, and retaining to the present day its old name as "Ludd." It is mentioned by Josephus ("Wars," 3:3, sec. 5) as transferred by Demetrius Soter, at the request of Judas Maccabeus, to the estate of the temple at Jerusalem (1 Macc. 10:30, 38 1 Macc. 11:34). Under the grasping rule of Cassius, the inhabitants were sold as slaves (Jos., "Ant." 14:11, sec. 2). It had, however, recovered its former prosperity, and appears at this time to have been the seat of a flourishing Christian community. In the wars that preceded the destruction of Jerusalem it was partially burned by Cestius Gallus, A.D. 66 (Jos., "Wars," 2:19, sec. 1), all but fifty of the inhabitants having gone up to the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem, and was again occupied by Vespasian, A.D. 68 (Jos., "Wars," 2:08, sec. 1). When it was rebuilt, probably under Hadrian, when Jerusalem received the new name of AElla Capitolina, it also was renamed as Diospolis ( = city of Zeus), and as such was the seat of one of the chief bishoprics of the Syrian Church. It was, at the time when Peter came to it, the seat of a Rabbinic school. Gamaliel, son of the great rabbi who was St. Paul's master, and himself honoured with the title of Rabban, presided over it, and was succeeded by the great Tarphon. The question which we naturally ask, who had planted the faith of Christ there, carries us once more on the track of Philip the Evangelist. Lying as it did on the road from Azotus to Caesarea, it would lie in his way on the journey recorded in Acts 8:40, as he passed "through all the cities"; and we may believe, without much risk, that he was Luke's informant as to what passed in the Church with which he was so closely connected.
(Dean Plumptre.)I. HOW DID THERE HAPPEN TO BE ANY SAINTS AT LYDDA? That place does not appear before. There are saints in unexpected places. Yet not unexpected to the attentive reader. Lydda lay between Azotus and Caesarea (Acts 8:40), and Philip no doubt had founded a Church there. How summarily our work is occasionally mentioned: In many a hurried phrase there are service and suffering, trial and triumph, which only God can recognise. We hear it said of the minister, that he called and offered prayer. By the clock it was but a few minutes, but into those minutes he condensed the experience of a lifetime, and spared not the blood of his very heart. Suspect any epitome which counts but as small dust the details which make up the service and suffering of the Christian toiler.
II. PETER FOUND HIS WAY TO THE SAINTS. How? Do we not all find out our otherselves in every city to which we go? When the surveyor would find out metallic strata, he takes the, magnet, and sees how it dips, and says, "Here you will find what you are in quest of." We pine for our own, and fall with second naturalness into the ways of the company of which we form a part. It would do some of us good if we could be shut up with savages for a few days. How we should then yearn for the most defective Christian we ever knew!
III. THE SAINTS ARE NAMELESS. There is something better than a name. There is character. There you find no personal renown, but you find a solid quantity of spiritual being. It is towards that estate we should constantly be moving, to the great republic of common holiness.
IV. PETER FOUND THE MAN WHO IS TO BE FOUND IN EVERY CITY. Locally called AEneas, but everywhere called the sick man. The genus remains unhealed — a continual appeal to the Petrine spirit. We are not all in the front rank of the ministry; because we cannot do the first and supreme class of work, it does not follow that we are to sit idle. You can bring to AEneas the Christian friend, and there is no grief but one that cannot be mitigated by Christian love. We hear nothing of Peter's doings here except this miracle; but as Philip had done much at Lydda without any record, so Peter may have done much beside this miracle. The miracle itself was a sermon. For "all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord."
V. NOW WE COME TO JOPPA, where there dwelt a woman who "was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did."
1. She died! How is that? There are some people whom we almost wish would die, and die they will not; and others whom we want to live always wither and die. There seems to be such a waste of nobility and service in this mysterious Providence. But we may be wrong in that outlook as we are in others. Why should not the good ship land? Why should we shed tears when the noble life vessel touches the shore? It is so that God trains us, prunes us, and prepares us for the wider revelation and the higher service.
2. Peter was sent for. He came the nine miles to see what could be done. How natural was this. There are times when the strong man is sent for, and these are times of darkness, trouble, personal and social despair. But there is always a strong man to send for. In that sense we must have "all things common," and none must say that ought that he has belongs to himself alone. It is in this spirit of Christian communism that we must keep society from putrefaction and souls from despair. There is a hint of the One who "sticketh closer than a brother." When your house is very dark, send for Jesus. But you are not to wait for such crises. Send for Him today, when the table is laden with flowers and every corner of the dwelling is ablaze with His own sunlight. Beautiful was the scene in that house at Joppa (ver. 39).
3. How did these widows come to be thus associated? Who took any interest in their welfare? If you read again chap. Acts 6. you will find arrangements made for needy widows, and to the name of Philip. So this man lives in his works. At Lydda he founded a Christian society; at Joppa he organised help for widows. Philip does not appear before us in name; but he leaves behind him memorials of his wisdom and beneficence.
4. How is it that we like the garments better when the seamstress is dead than when she was making them? That is a fact everywhere. The little child's toy becomes infinitely precious when the tiny player can no longer handle it. And the two little shoes are the most precious property in the house when the little feet that wore them are set away in God's acre. Let us love one another whilst we live! Not a word do I say against the sentiment which enlarges the actions of the dead, but I would speak a word for those who are sitting next you and making your own house glad by their deft fingers and loving hearts.
5. Now we come to the first miracle of the kind to which apostolic strength was summoned. Up to this time the apostles had been healing divers diseases; but now the apostles grapple without the visible Christ with actual death. We may well pause here in the excitement of a great anxiety. "Peter put them all forth." That was what Christ did! Some battles may be fought in public, others have to be fought in solitude; so "Peter put them all forth." "Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet," etc. Have you ever prayed in the death chamber with none there but the dead friend? How eloquent has been your dumbness! When you were weak, then were you strong. "And" — oh, conjunctive that makes one tremble! — "turning to the body," now is the critical moment, "said, Tabitha, arise." "And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up." Let your miracles come through your prayers. Let your prayers always end in the amen of a miracle. What is the use of your solitude and your prayer, if when you turn round you cannot work some miracle of love?
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. AS EXPRESSING THE GENIUS OF CHRISTIANITY. AEneas, a wretched sufferer for eight long years, Peter restored to health, thus expressing the benign spirit of the new religion. Christianity is —
1. The offspring of mercy. It is a stream from the eternal fountain of love.
2. The revealer of mercy. "Herein is love," etc.
3. The organ of mercy. Through it humanity is to be redeemed from all evil.
II. AS SYMBOLISING THE MISSION OF CHRISTIANITY. It was a restorative miracle. The mission of Christianity is restorative. Christ came to seek and to save. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It does not create new faculties; but it restores the soul —
1. To God's knowledge.
2. To God's fellowship.
3. To God's image.
III. AS INDICATING THE POWER OF CHRISTIANITY. "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole," etc.
1. The restorative power is derived from Christ.
2. It is derived from Christ by faith.
IV. AS REPRESENTING THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. Men "turned to the Lord." This is to turn —
1. From the creature to the Creator.
2. From the destroyer to the Restorer.
3. From the wrong and miserable to the holy and happy.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)I. WAS TRULY SICK.
1. Had he not been really sick, the incident would have been a piece of imposture; but he was hopelessly infirm. Now, as there is no room for a great cure unless there is a great sickness, so there is no room for God's great grace unless there is great sin. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to save sham, but real sinners.
2. The man had been paralysed eight years. The length of its endurance is a terrible element in a disease. Perhaps yours is no eight years' malady, but twenty-eight, or forty-eight, or, perhaps, eighty-eight years have you been in bondage under it. Well, the number of years cannot prevent the mercy of God from making us whole. You have a very long bill to discharge, while another friend has but a short one; but it is just as easy for the creditor to write "paid" at the bottom of the large bill as the smaller one.
3. His disease was incurable, AEneas could not restore himself, and no human physician could do anything for him. Your soul's wound is incurable. There is no soul physician except at Calvary; no balm but in the Saviour's wounds.
II. KNEW SOMETHING ABOUT JESUS; because, otherwise, when Peter said, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole," AEneas would have inquired what he meant. Now, lest there should be one here who does not know Jesus Christ, and how it is that He is able to heal sin-sick souls, let us briefly tell the old, old story over again.
III. BELIEVED ON THE LORD JESUS.
1. He did not believe in Peter as the healer. Peter does not say, "As the head of the Church, I, by power delegated to me, make thee whole." Peter preached too clear a gospel for that. That is the purest gospel which has the least of man in it, and the most of Christ.
2. Much less had he any faith in himself. He did not say to Peter, "But I do not feel strength enough to get well"; nor "I think I do feel power enough to shake off this palsy." Peter's message took him off from himself. "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." That was what the man had to believe; and it is what you also must believe.
3. With his faith AEneas had the desires which showed that it was not mere speculation, but solid practical believing; he anxiously wished to be made whole. Oh, that sinners anxiously wished to be saved! I never heard of men reckoning a cancer to be a jewel; but there are many who look upon their sins as if they were gems, so that they will sooner lose heaven than part with their lustful pleasures.
4. And what did AEneas believe?(1) That Jesus could heal him, AEneas. John Brown, do you believe that Jesus Christ can cure you? I do not care what your faith is about your wife's ease. Can you grip that, and reply, "Yes, He is able to save me"?(2) That Jesus Christ was able to save him there and then, just as he was. He had not taken a course of physic, nor been under galvanism to strengthen his nerves and sinews, and prepare him to be cured, but he believed that Jesus Christ could save him without any preparation. When you think what Christ is, and what He has done, it ought not to be difficult to believe this.
IV. WAS MADE WHOLE. Just fancy, for a minute, what would have been the result if he had not been made whole.
1. What dishonour it would have been to Peter! Peter said, "AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole"; but there lies AEneas as palsied as before. Everybody would say, "Peter is a false witness."
2. What dishonour would have been brought upon the name of Jesus! Suppose you were to believe in Jesus, and yet were not saved. Then He has broken His word, or lost His power to save, either of which we are unwilling to tolerate for a minute. If thou believest in Jesus Christ, as surely as thou livest Jesus Christ has saved thee.
3. Then the gospel would not be true. Shut up those churches, banish those ministers, burn those Bibles; there is no truth in any of them if a soul can believe in Jesus and yet not be saved.
V. AFTER HE WAS HEALED, ACTED CONFORMABLY. "Peter said unto him...Arise, and make thy bed"; and he did so directly, Now, if any of you say tonight, "I have believed in Jesus," remember you are bound to prove it. You are to go home and show people how whole you are. This man had been lying there eight years, and could never make his bed; but he proved he was healed by making his bed for himself. You will have to prove this by —
1. A consistent, holy life.
2. An unselfish life.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. AT LYDDA.
1. Peter came to the saints at Lydda — an early and favourite title for the disciples of Christ. It has no official application, but belongs equally to all believers, and no disciple should shrink from it. Its primary and principal sense is one set apart as sacred. Believers are called saints, not because they are of eminent sanctity, but because they are set apart as sacred to God. This primary meaning, however, implies the secondary, subjective sense of moral holiness. It is to be regretted that the abuse of this inspired name should have led the Reformed Church into neglect of its apostolic use.
2. In the Church at Lydda, Peter found a case of incurable paralysis. Christianity, by removing causes and supplying antidotes, reduces the area and violence of physical diseases. But the gospel is designed chiefly for the more terrible moral diseases of mankind. Would it impugn the fair name of AEneas if we regard him as the type of a paralysed believer or Church?
3. The profit of faithful pastoral visitation is seen in the discovery of paralysing conditions. This palsy may be any evil quality of character or life sufficient to prevent spiritual activity and growth. There is but one relief — in a miracle of grace, a revival stirring all the depths of the soul.
4. "AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole; arise, upright, make use of the power Jesus gives thee; prove thyself sound by the activities of a healthy life; show to all the saving power of Jesus Christ by acting as one whom He has saved." Peter does not mention himself, but acts in the meekness of a true servant. He thus presents an admirable example of that combination of modesty and power so characteristic of real greatness.
5. The faith of Peter in the power of Jesus is manifest, not only in the positive declaration of what Jesus was doing for AEneas, but also in the imperative "arise" given to one hitherto paralytic. The faith which works miracles on the bodies of men no longer remains with the ministry; but that is of small account to the faith that works miracles on the souls of men.
6. Though no mention is made of the faith of AEneas, it appears in its fruit. The human source of that faith was the faith of Peter. Did all who undertake to speak in the name of Jesus Christ do it with firm conviction in the presence and power of Jesus to save, their faith would never fail to be fruitful in the faith and conversion of others.
7. There was no concealment on the part of AEneas of the Christian work effected in him. The fame of his healing spread through all the region. The multitude thronged to see the paralytic, now whole; and when they learned the Divine name in which it was effected, they were converted, and openly took their stand with the Church of Christ. This result, so natural and logical, is a reason why a converted man should make known Christ's work within him.
II. AT JOPPA.
1. The apostolic visitation of Peter. was an upward as well as onward progress, a rising from one great work to a greater, until its sublime culmination in the house of Cornelius. In the Church at Joppa was a prominent disciple. Among her Syrian friends she was known as Tabitha, her Greek acquaintances called her Dorcas, while we would have spoken of her as "the Gazelle." The graceful form and pliant movement, and large, gentle, loving eyes of the gazelle, after all, do not express such attractive beauty as the portrait of Dorcas: "a woman full of good works and almsdeeds"; nor does the rarest physical beauty ever gain such a hold on human affection as is portrayed in the pathetic grief of this Church of Joppa over her untimely death.
2. New Testament biography is brief, but comprehensive. Two pen strokes describe the supernatural workmanship in Dorcas — she was a disciple and a saint. She was Mary and Martha in one — as a disciple, she sat at Jesus' feet; as a saint, she served Jesus in ministrations of charity. A disciple, she confessed Jesus; a saint, she consecrated herself, in all her possessions and capabilities, to Christ. She did not aspire to the place of teacher or ruler, but took a natural sphere in the abundant and varied womanly work of the Church. Dorcas presents a model worthy the study of every Christian woman.
3. "She was sick and died." This chamber of death is to witness what has been often witnessed since — a natural side, the gloom and grief and agony of bereaved affection; and the supernatural side — the wrestling prayer and submissive comfort of faith in the assured rest and resurrection of the dead.
4. And then the stricken Church sent for Peter. They were expecting no miracle. It was too late for the exertion of the power of a healing like that of AEneas. They were in sore need of light and comfort, and they turned to one on whom Jesus had bestowed other and greater gifts than physical healing. The apostle left a happy and rejoicing Church at Lydda; it was a sad and tearful congregation that greeted him at Joppa. It was said her loss was irreparable. But we know better: Providence is not limited to one Dorcas, or two. The fruit of the Spirit is ever ripening. We do daily meet sisters of charity — not, indeed, flaunting a pharisaic zeal in the garb of a religious order, but dressed as women ought to be — who consecrate their means and time in sacrifices of beneficence.
4. Peter desired to be alone with the dead. Was it the instinct of Christian meekness, or recalling the example of Jesus in the house of Jairus? The crowded presence of this weeping company was not in harmony with the great emotion now surging in the apostle's heart. Alone, he would be more free in prayer for the guidance of Jesus in this crisis. The thoughtful minister, when preparing for Christian work — all the more if it be unusual or critical — prays in the closet, and not before men. Nor does Peter appeal to Jesus in vain.
5. How natural is the story of this resurrection! The eyes of "the Gazelle" once more open. He presented her to the Church alive, her old life of love, sympathy, and beneficence. She would not be less a Christian for having been in Paradise. A few hours of heaven, as was the case with Paul, and John, and Tennent, gives new motives and fresh impulses to Christian consecration.
6. The news thrilled the Church with joy, and all Joppa with wonder. This is not recorded to meet the demands of scepticism, but because of the effect of the miracle on the activity of the Church, and on the many who believed and were added to the saints; to conduct and confirm which work "Peter tarried many days in Joppa."
7. If the life of Dorcas was a blessing to the Church and world, even more fruitful of good was her death. It roused the Church through grief and surprise to tears of repentance, gratitude, and love. It led them to confession and prayer in seeking heavenly sympathy and comfort. The awakening of her body was the awakening of many sleeping souls to life in Jesus Christ. Let the Church hear the cry, "Arise! awake at the word to the work of Jesus."
(G. C. Heckman, D. D.)
Sermons by the Monday Club.We are told that faith in miracles is passing away. No doubt in some quarters it is; and unhappily the same is to be said of much else that is good and true. It does not follow, however, that such faith is opposed to human reason, nor that it is likely ever to lose its hold on the human heart. It is certain that, if there be a personal God, He can reveal His presence by signs and wonders; and equally certain that, if occasion requires, He will.
I. THE TIME was a season of rest. Saul of Tarsus had been converted; the storm of persecution had subsided; and Peter, with unresting activity, was on a round of Church inspection, imparting courage, and working miracles of convincing and persuasive power.
II. THE SCENE was northwest from Jerusalem. Lydda was from Jerusalem about a day's journey. Joppa, nine miles beyond. At both these places there were Churches. So rapid had been the progress of the faith in Jesus!
III. THE SUBJECTS were both alike and unlike. The one was a paralytic; the other, a dead disciple greatly beloved for her good works. Both were well known, and known to be beyond human help. Again, while one was a beloved disciple, there is no evidence that the other was a disciple at all. For aught that appears, AEneas was a common sinner, who had heard of Jesus, but had never attached himself to the company of His followers. Thus the miracle was not only an unmistakable work of Divine power, but also the outgoing of Christian love.
IV. THE MANNER. These wonders were wrought by Peter indeed, but in the name and power of another. Never did the apostles claim to work by any other power than that of Jesus.
V. THE PURPOSE was two fold. In part it was the simple relief of suffering and cure of sorrow. But Peter had a deeper purpose. If miracles were immediately beneficial, they were also and specially "signs." And, with the apostles, they were signs not only of God's approval of their teachings and work, but also of the continued presence and power of Jesus.
VI. THE RESULT. Their two-fold purpose was accomplished. Not only was suffering relieved and sorrow turned to joy, but far and near it was seen and owned that Jesus was still at hand and mighty to save.
VII. PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.
1. Jesus is still a living and acting Presence with His people. The continued nearness of Christ is the hope and strength of the individual believer, the warrant of the Church in its aggressive work, and the pledge of its final victory.
2. The breadth of our Christian work. Our Saviour had it as a part of His mission to relieve physical distress. He commissioned His disciples to do the same. More than this, by precept and example He planted the spirit of human kindness in the hearts of His followers. Straightway it began to show itself in them. It did not more truly appear in the miracles of Peter than it did in the good works and almsdeeds of Dorcas. Already this has wrought great changes in the face of society; but by no means has all been accomplished which needs to be done. This, then, is a part of the service which the Master expects of His present followers. The redemption He proposes is for the whole man — body, soul, and spirit.
3. One important way to promote religious conversions and revivals. It was the love, as well as the Divine power, which shone in the miracles of Peter, which won the hearts of so many at Lydda and Joppa. Often does the missionary first win his way to Pagan hearts by ministries of bodily healing.
4. The crowning aim in all Christian service. With the Saviour, this was never the mere relief of physical suffering or trouble. He would have them know that He had power to forgive sins, and raise the spiritually dead to life eternal. So it was Peter's supreme purpose to multiply and confirm Christian converts.
(Sermons by the Monday Club.)
I. First, notice THE SIMILARITIES AND THE LESSON THEY TEACH. The two cases before us are alike in that both of them find parallels in our Lord's miracles. The one is the cure of a paralytic. The raising of Dorcas corresponds with the three resurrections of the dead people which are recorded in the Gospels. And now, note the likenesses. Jesus Christ said to the paralysed man, "Arise, take up thy bed." Peter said to AEneas, "Arise, and make thy bed." The one command was appropriate to the circumstances of a man who was not in his own house; the other a man bed-ridden in his own house. And then, if we turn to the other narrative, the intentional moulding of the manner of the miracle, consecrated in the eyes of the loving disciple, because it was Christ's manner, is still more obvious. Well now, although we are no miracle workers, the very same principle which underlay these two works of supernatural power is to be applied to all our work, and to our lives as Christian people. I do not know whether Peter meant to do like Jesus Christ or not; I rather think that he was unconsciously dropping into the fashion that to him was so sacred. Love always delights in imitation; and the disciples of a great teacher will unconsciously catch the trick of his intonation, the peculiarities of his way of looking at things — only, unfortunately, outsides are a good deal more easily imitated than insides. Get near Jesus Christ, and you will catch His manner. Love Him, and love will do to you what it does to many a wedded pair, and to many kindred hearts, it will transfuse into you something of the characteristics of the object of your love. It is impossible to trust Christ, to obey Christ, to hold communion with Him, and to live beside Him, without becoming like Him. And if such be our inward experience, so will be our outward appearance. Jesus Christ, when He went through the wards of the hospital of the world, was overflowing with quick sympathy for every sorrow that met His eye. If you or I are living near Him we shall never steel our hearts nor lock up our sensibilities against any suffering that it is within our power to stanch or to alleviate. Jesus Christ never grudged trouble, never thought of Himself, newer was impatient of interruption, never repelled importunity, never sent away empty any outstretched hand.
II. Further, note THE DIFFERENCES AND THE LESSONS FROM THEM. Take the first of the two miracles. "AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed." That first clause points to the great difference. Take the second of the two, "Jesus Christ put them all forth, and stretched out His hand, and said, Damsel, arise!" "Peter put them all forth,...and said, "Damsel (Tabitha), arise!" But between the putting forth and the miracle he did something which Christ did not do, and he did not do something which Christ did do. "He kneeled down and prayed." And Jesus Christ did not do that. And Peter put forth his hand after the miracle was wrought; not to communicate life, but to help the living woman. Christ works miracles by His inherent power; His servants do their works only as His instruments and organs. The lesson, then, of the difference is that Christian men, in all their work for the Master, and for the world, are ever to keep clear before themselves, and to make very obvious to other people, that they are nothing more than channels and instruments. The less the preacher, the teacher, the Christian benefactor of any sort puts himself in the foreground, or in evidence at all, the more likely are his words and works to be successful. And then, further, another lesson is, be very sure of the power that will work in you. What a piece of audacity it was for Peter to go and stand by the paralytic man's couch and say, "AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole"! Yes, audacity; unless he had been in such constant and close touch with his Master that he was sure that the Master was working through him. And is it not beautiful to see how absolutely confident he is that Jesus Christ's work was not done when He went up into heaven; but that there, in that little stuffy room, where the man had laid motionless for eight long years, Jesus Christ is present, and working? But do we believe that He is verily putting forth His power, in no metaphor, but in simple reality, at present and here, and, if we will, through us? We are here for the very purpose for which Peter was in Lydda and Joppa — to carry on and copy the healing and the quickening work of Christ by His present power, and after His blessed example.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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