One thing I have become aware of probably more than most people because of my dual role as a pastor and psychologist is there are so many hurting people.
There are people hurting financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If there is a way to hurt, people hurt. It doesn’t matter what economic class you belong to; it does not matter what age group you fall into; it does not what color your skin is; it does not matter whether you are male or female. People hurt.
In today’s passage of Scripture, the apostle Peter in his travels to Lydda came across one such man who was hurting. His name was Aenas, and he had been paralyzed for eight years. This man was not just a little a paralyzed; he was a lot paralyzed.
The Scripture says he had been bed-ridden for eight years, which means he was unable to get out of bed, to walk, to wash himself, to dress himself, to feed himself, to move himself, to take care of basic needs. He definitely was hurting; and probably the people who are living in that house with him, those who were taking care of him, were hurting just as much as he was but in a different way.
So, I believe the Holy Spirit of God put this passage of Scripture here about a man who we know nothing about except for these few verses to teach the church how to help hurting people.
The church, if it is to help hurting people, cannot wait for hurting people to come to it. The church must go to them. “As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda” (v. 32).
Peter’s home church was in Jerusalem, but we don’t see him just sitting there waiting for those who are hurting to come to him. Peter went out to them. He traveled the countryside; he was 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem when he came across Aenas. Do you think Aenas would have been healed if Peter just waited in Jerusalem for Aenas to come to him? I believe the answer is an obvious no.
It is so easy for a church to want to think we will wait for them to come to us. We will minister to them when they get here; but they have got to come here first.
• The person you drove past on the way to church today cutting his grass is not going to come to the church until we first go out to him.
• That person who doesn’t know Christ at your workplace is not going to come to the church until you say, “Let me stop by and pick you up.”
• That person who is hurting financially is not going to come to the church until the church first shows him that we care.
Before something could happen in Aenas’ life something first had to happen in Peter’s life: “There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bed-ridden for eight years” (v. 33).
If Pentecost didn’t happen in Peter’s life, if he didn’t yield to God, would he be traveling that road and coming across this man who was paralysed? I doubt it very seriously. He most likely wouldn’t have been traveling that road; he probably would be back at work on the sea earning a living as a fisherman.
In a very real sense, we can say that in hindsight what happened to Aenas depended certainly on what first happened to Peter. Here is something to think about: What may be happening in somebody’s life in the future may be dependent on what is happening to me today. If God is speaking to me today and I am pushing Him away, telling Him I don’t want to hear this, somebody may spend eternity in hell because I didn’t allow God to change my heart, to touch me; and therefore, I did not touch someone else’s life. However, if I am listening, I am hearing, and I am obeying God so somebody’s life in the future may be changed by the decisions I make today.
The church, if it is to help hurting people, can do so by no other name than Jesus Christ. There is only power in that name: “‘Aeneas,’ Peter said to him, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas got up.”
Peter didn’t heal this man by the name of the church at Jerusalem; Peter didn’t heal this man by any denomination; Peter didn’t heal this man in his own name. He called upon a specific name—the name of Jesus—for this man to be healed.
Jesus’ work revolves around Jesus, and it is to bring attention to Jesus. If what the church is doing is to bring attention to itself, then it is a church work, not a work of Jesus.
• If Pike Baptist Association is doing a work to bring attention to Pike Baptist, it is a denomination work, not a Jesus work.
• If what the pastor is doing in his ministry is to bring attention to himself and not to Jesus, he is doing a self work, not a Jesus work.
The power is in the name of Jesus. Peter knew that: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (
Jesus wants to use me right where I live to touch someone’s life: “‘Aeneas,’ Peter said to him, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas got up.”
What Peter was telling Aeneas was to get up and make his bed. Why make his bed? I always argue with Anne why make the bed when she and I are the only ones who will see it. That is exactly why Peter told him to make his bed—because the people who lived in the house taking care of him would see it and will know God had done something great, which would change them, too.
It is always interesting to me that we want to be Christians somewhere else, but Jesus is telling us to be the Christians we need to be right where we live.
The best Christian you need to be is in your home. The best Christian you need to be is in your church, not when you are visiting some other church. The best Christian you need to be is on the job where you work every day, not when you are out on a business trip.
If Jesus gets hold of you and changes your life, what Jesus did will be noticed by others: “All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (v. 35).
Once again, we’re reminded people are watching! He didn’t have to draw attention to himself; what Jesus did in his life was more than enough. Not only did the people in Lydda hear about it, but in the plains of Sharon heard about it.
There are hurting people in the world, and the answer is Jesus; and the church ought to be pointing them to Jesus.