The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
This is a powerful slice of life from the early church. The immediate fruit of the believers’ prayer for “signs and wonders”included the marvels of unity, sacrificial sharing and ongoing passionate witness to the name of Jesus. But now we get a sighting of miracles that further evidences the tangible power and reality of the Kingdom.
In the midst of these manifest workings of the Spirit, opposition must have been obviously present, since anyone other than the most committed were clearly hesitant to associate with the church in public. Nevertheless, these early believers had the favour of the general populous. They were in the public eye, observed by all, and highly regarded.
And the miraculous presence of the Lord was obvious. The sick and demon-possessed found healing and release. The simple presence of the apostles seemed to be anointed with miracle-working power, for even Peter’s passing shadow falling on someone by the roadside was enough to bring healing. Indeed, the text tells us that even in face of the pressing eagerness of multitudes of the needy, converging from surrounding towns, “all of them were healed” (verses 16). Remarkable.
So, what do I do with this? What do I make of it? How does it impact me here and now?
I have no doubt that these five short verses are an historically accurate and true account of the Lord’s wondrous work through the early church. Indeed, if we needed confirmation, the remarkable growth of the church, even in the inhospitable soil of official opposition, affirms that something truly extraordinary was taking place.
I have no doubt these miracles of healing and deliverance were uniquely suited to the need of the moment, no doubt that the Lord can do the same today, no doubt that faith is needed for such working, no doubt that there is much need in our world still.
And I have no doubt that such activity is wholly dependent on the Sovereign Lord. It is in his hands. Wholly. His kingdom come, his will be done.
So, once again, I am backed into the corner of prayer. If I take this passage seriously, I rejoice at what the Lord did back then so powerfully, but I am challenged to plead with him to intervene here and now with that same miracle-working power. The scripture compels me to pray:
“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known …” (Habakkuk 3:2)
Lord, open my eyes to see through the scriptures the reality of your powerful works. Stir faith to plead with you to intervene now. Indeed, renew your work, O Lord. In my world, make your presence known. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pray: Take the prayer of Habakkuk 3:2 and make it your own. Memorize it, if you’re able. Pray it often. Jesus taught that we “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). Do it.
Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash