And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelled at Lydda.…
These two miracles are both evidently moulded upon Christ's miracles; are distinct imitations of what Peter had seen Him do. And their likenesses to and differences from our Lord's manner of working are equally noteworthy.
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.