Acts 9:32–43: The Healing of Aeneas, Dorcas Restored to Life
At the beginning of the book of Acts one of the main characters was Peter, then we had some passages that focused on Philip, then Saul, and now we’re back to Peter again. In this passage he performs a couple of miraculous healings, both of which cause people to believe and come to the Lord.
First he goes to a place called Lydda where he meets a man named Aeneas who has been paralyzed for 8 years. Peter says to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed” (verse 34), and when he does everyone in Lydda (and even the entire coastal plain of Sharon) turn to the Lord. (verse 35 says that “all the residents of Lydda and Sharon” believe, but I’m guessing that’s hyperbole.)
Then, in a nearby place called Joppa there is another disciple whose name is is Tabitha (Aramaic) or Dorcas (Greek), who had been “full of good works and acts of charity” (verse 36), but who has died. They wash her body and place it in an upper room, but because Lydda is so close they decide to send for Peter. He goes to the house where Tabitha/Dorcas has been laid, tells her to get up, and she does! And, once again, everyone hears about it and word spreads, and many believe in the Lord.
What’s interesting about these passages is that I don’t actually have that much to say about them. Peter performs a couple of miracles that are so spectacular people can’t help but believe in the Lord in droves, miracles that we simply don’t see anymore in the modern world—at least, not in North America where I live—and yet it’s a little too easy to read these stories in the New Testament and think, “Ho hum, another couple of healings. What’s next?”
I firmly believe that part of the reason we don’t have these kinds of miracles anymore is that we now have the completed New Testament Scriptures (including this passage), so there’s a sense in which miracles aren’t “needed” in the same way they were needed at the time of the 1st Century Christians. But I think that’s only part of the reason—and I don’t know all the others.