Day 12 - Acts 9:32-10:22 - 40 Days in the Book of Acts

Acts 9:32-10:22

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

The church is growing and maturing.  The need of the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem 24/7 isn't necessary.  Now we see Peter moving away from Jerusalem and taking the Gospel to new areas.

There is a leadership principle to be learned here.  Apparently the Apostles trained people to replace themselves.  They never saw themselves as staying in Jerusalem forever.  The question becomes, are you a leader who is raising up future leaders or are you a future leader being mentored by someone for the future?

Peter goes to the city of Lydda and finds a paralytic man who had been bed ridden for 8 years.  Peter tells him that Jesus has healed him and in the moment the man gets up and walks.  The people responded accordingly and gave their hearts to Jesus.

It is amazing that when people are looking for a Savior, they will find one.  Even if it is the wrong one.  That is the world that you and I live in today.  People are looking - but what are we doing to make sure that Jesus is being presented in the truth of His light.

36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, 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. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.

Here we meet a woman named Tabitha who was of great value to the community and loved by those who knew her.  She was a woman gifts with the ministry of helps, apparently one who was willing to serve with a giving heart.

When she died it had a tremendous impact on the community.  Hearing that Peter was nearby they sent for him.  Upon his arrival they showed him all the great things that she did for them.  Here testimony was living on, even if she wasn't.

There is an age old question, "When you die, what will people say about you?"  Well, I can tell you that after doing enough funerals that people will answer the question.  Sure they will embrace your faults but as a general rule they will praise your good character.  What do you want people to say after you are gone?

Because of their lack of faith, Peter tells everyone to leave the room.  He prays and tells Tabitha to get up!  She does!  Peter presents her to the believers that were there but you can be sure that the believers presented her to the community!  The story spread and as a result people placed their faith in Jesus.

Simon stays in this area and stays at the house of Simon the tanner.  This is important considering what is about to happen.

1  At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

About 30 miles north of Joppa is the city of Caesarea.  Rome had stationed a special band of soldiers known as the Italian company.  Cornelius was a centurion who would have commanded up to 100 men.  Luke points out to us that he was a man of faith and that he was a generous man.  

It wasn't unusual to see Gentiles embracing the faith of Judaism and Christianity.  The simplicity of one God that didn't require all the immorality of the other religions appealed to them.  In this case though Cornelius hasn't become a proselyte Jew.  He doesn't observe the dietary laws of Judaism and he hasn't been circumcised.  

But he was a man of prayer.  The idea here is that he was someone who really sought God for guidance.  It was in this time of prayer that an angel appears to him.  This scared the daylights out of Cornelius.  Let's be honest, it would probably scared the daylights out of us too!  But Cornelius doesn't run away or pass out, he understands that this is happening for a reason, so he asks, "What is it?"  The angel instructs him to send men to Joppa, bring Peter back and oh, he is staying at the house of Simon the Tanner.  
9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.  17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”

Around noon time Peter goes to the roof of the house to pray.  Most houses in those days were built with this kind of "patio" design.  Peter is hungry and asks his hosts for something to eat.  But while he is up there the Bible says that he fell into a trance.  Because there is so much superstition involved in our culture we are quick to assume what this is.  He wasn't in some kind of hypnotic condition, it simply means that he was distracted from what he was doing, sensing that something important was about to happen.  

Now up to this point and time, Peter never had a problem with people unlike himself.  He was willing to go to Samaria and preach the Gospel.  He was willing to stay in this home, a home considered to be unclean by some.  (Tanning was practice by the sea because there was a continual breeze to keep the foul odor away.  Tanners tanned leather with urine.)  

But how Peter is going to be challenged.  A sheet full of animals that were declared unclean by the Law of Moses was presented to him.  The voice of the Lord (which Peter would have recognized) tells him to kill and eat, to which Peter says, "No way!" The Lords' response is clear.  Never call anything unclean that I have cleaned.  This happens three more times and now Peter is seriously thinking about what is happening.  

His thoughts are interrupted by the Holy Spirit with the instructions about his next assignment.  "Get up and go" is basically what the Holy Spirit says.  Peter goes to the men and asks what their reason for coming is.  All Peter knows is that he is going to be traveling with them, of course he is naturally going to inquire as to what the reason is.  Their response was quick and to the point.  A Gentile has was visited by an angel who instructed him to send for you.  Does that help to put Peters vision into context?   More to come!! 

English Standard Version (ESV)