“Everybody woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them.” Acts 9:35 (The Message)
After the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the country was ablaze with excitement and wonder. Things reached a new level of astonishment with the fast spreading news that Saul of Tarsus, the dreaded Darth Vader of the First Century, had himself become a follower of Christ and was now preaching the very Gospel he had sworn to destroy!
Yes, those were wondrous days.
But not everybody was fully on board just yet. The Bible tells us that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, traveled throughout the country encouraging and strengthening the early Church. No doubt he ran into believers of all types, and churches of all sorts.
There surely were those who were vibrant with a sense of faith and filled with awe over all that had occurred in those recent days. And, there can be little doubt that he ran into the occasional “Sleepy Hollow Church of the What-in-the-World-is-going on-around-here Fellowship.” Perhaps.
What we do know for a fact is that in one of his stops he came to a town named Lydda and there met with the believers, who gathered in some suitable location to hear what Peter would say to them. It is believed that Philip the Evangelist planted this church after the Spirit of the Lord caught him away from the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.
“And Philip was found at Azotus,” the Bible tells us, “and passing through he announced the glad tidings to all the cities till he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:40). One of those cities on his spirited tour would have been Lydda, and one can only imagine the excitement generated by Philip’s firsthand account of all that had been happening.
Peter showed up in Lydda about one year later. Evidently, prior to Peter’s visit these folks had settled down and gone back to sleep – spiritually speaking. Philip’s testimony had stirred them to a spiritual hunger, but with the passing of time their minds had drifted back to business as usual.
They were dutiful in their devotions, evidenced by the fact that they assembled to hear Peter preach; but they were dry as a bone in their souls. Gathering to hear Peter was just another church meeting as far as they were concerned; just another special speaker come to town. Oh, sure, this speaker was a cut above most of the others; after all, he actually knew and walked with Jesus.
While he was preaching Peter saw a man there, named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed in bed for eight years. This man’s affliction became the occasion for God to do something extraordinary.
Set your alarm and tune in tomorrow; I will tell you what happened next!