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Meanwhile, the disciples are now doing rather well under the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

‘As Peter travelled the country he went to visit the saints in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bed ridden for eight years. “Aeneas”, Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and tidy your mat.” Immediately Aenaes got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.’

Acts 9:32

A compelling miracle in the likeness of one Jesus himself did, in fact, it was Jesus that did this one as well, and that was the point of it, and did not Peter say so even as it was happening? “Jesus Christ heals you.” It is Jesus that has healed him. This proof of Christ’s power and continuum ripples out in waves of conversions, the talk of the towns, tipping the scales of balance fully in favour of belief in the risen and now God Jesus.

‘In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, (which when translated is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him “Please come at once!”

Acts 9:36

‘Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made whilst she was still with them.

Acts 9:39

‘Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.’

Acts 9:40

Miraculous healings and resurrections, of which there have been quite a few, as a means to show and demonstrate the nature of Christ, and the power of Christ. It is in his nature to heal. His nature is to bring life. His nature is to deliver from despair. His nature is to transform one state to another. Cripple to whole, dead to life, blind to seer, non believer to devoted follower.

Thousands are coming to believe. Not from compelling theological arguments delivered by skilled oration but from simple acts of direct heaven forth mercy. And the next one is, in modern parlance, a game changer.

At Caesarea, (the port near to Jerusalem from which Saul had sailed home) there was a centurion named Cornelius. He was a Roman, of course, in the Italian Regiment, and not a Jew. Up until this time, pretty much everyone the disciples were actively preaching to and evangelising were Jews. The whole Jewish faith was a run up to the coming of the Messiah, the Jews Holy scrolls were the source of all the prophecies, all the prophets were Jews, the entire thing was a Jewish thing. Jesus was a Jew. All his disciples were Jews. It was a given that this was salvation for the Jews, for Israel, which was not a land, but a people.

However, Cornelius and his family were devout and God fearing, having heard of this Jesus and the Way, and their hearts were sufficiently right for God to respond. Cornelius has a vision, an angel of God, who tells him;

“Your prayers and gifts have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

Acts 10:4

Cornelius does as instructed, impressive given the minimal amount of information given, especially the reason why. But Cornelius is a centurion, a soldier, so understands how to follow direct orders without needing to question them. So he sends two servants, who would actually be slaves, and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants to Joppa.

Around noon the following day as they were approaching the city, Peter was having a vision of his own.

‘He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him “Get up Peter, kill and eat.”

Acts 10:11

Peter was a Jew, and the Jews had strict and quite nuanced regulations regarding what they could and could not eat. Some birds yes, others, no. Rabbits no, sheep yes, pigs no, cows yes, camels no, and so on, depending on whether the animal chewed the cud and or had cloven feet. They also had rules regarding the killing and preparing. It really wasn’t as simple as ‘kill and eat’.

“Surely not Lord!”, Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

Acts 10:14

‘The voice spoke to him a second time. “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

Acts 10:15 55 ‘This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.’

Acts 10:16

To be continued …

Extract from All People Must Know and The Bible

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New Hope Christian Church

NHCC UK | Greenhill Parkway

Sheffield | S8  7JP

Phone  |  07459200418

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