It changed and changes everything
Acts 9:26-43 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
32 Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up. 35 And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. 37 And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” 39 So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. 40 But Peter sent them all out 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; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.
In today’s text it says: as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up. And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Then later: it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out 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. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Earlier, in Acts 5:14-16 it says: all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed. We know that on the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached his first sermon, 3000 people were added to the church. Yet, we remember that of this same Peter, on the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested, Luke 22:54-62 says: Peter was following at a distance. After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. What was it that changed; what turned Peter from a man who feared the accusation of a servant girl to one who boldly testified of Christ and performed miracles in His name? The simple and obvious answer is the Holy Spirit, as Jesus promised, through the Holy Spirit Peter received power; power to testify and power to do the works that Jesus did.
Still though there was something more. There was and is something even greater that changed Peter, something that changed everything. The Holy Spirit did not change. The Spirit was present at creation; like God the Spirit does not change. Even before and beyond the Holy Spirit, what changed from the night Peter denied Jesus and the time we see in Acts was the cross. Before the cross the world and everyone in it was under the curse of sin. No one, no matter how hard they tried; no matter how good their intentions, could fully live above sin. The cross changed that. In John 16:33 Jesus said: “In Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” On the cross Jesus said: “It is finished.” (John 19:30) The cross changed everything for Peter. In the same way, the cross changed everything for us. In John 14:12-14 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Before the cross, in my own strength I could do nothing of eternal value. Now, because of the cross, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Many people today seek the Holy Spirit and its power. They want to walk in the power of the Spirit. They want to live filled with the Spirit’s power so that like Peter, everything that even their shadow touches would be changed. It is good and right that we should desire the fullness of the Spirit in and overflowing from our lives. That is what Jesus called and commissioned us to do. We should be those who are the answer to the prayer Jesus prayed and taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We should bring the realities of heaven to the circumstances and situations we see and face on earth, just as Peter did, through the overflowing power of the Holy Spirit. But it’s the cross that changes everything. There is no short cut; there is no other way to the Spirit’s power. It only comes after the cross. None of the things that we know and have, the grace of God, redemption from and victory over sin, the confidence that our prayers will be answered because Jesus said He will do it, the abundance of God’s blessings and provision; none of the good things that so many teach and preach and write books about today, that are our’s in Christ, come without the cross. It is the finished work of the cross that changed and changes everything.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit; thank You for the cross. May I never take for granted the price that was paid for the victory and the power and the grace that is available to me and through me, by the filling of the Holy Spirit. May the daily taking up of my own cross begin with meditating on Your cross. May I be changed by the finished work that changes everything. Amen.