Friday, July 22, 2011

Aeneas: Walking Witness

Where did Aeneas live? Lydda (Acts 9:33)

Aeneas was a paralytic from Lydda healed by Peter (Acts 9:32-35). Though miraculous, Peter’s healing of Aeneas is overshadowed by the momentous conversion of Paul that precedes it (Acts 9:1-31) and the resurrection of Dorcas that follows it (Acts 9:36-43). In fact, Aeneas’ tale is skipped over in the Revised Common Lectionary, the system of appointed readings in many Christian denominations. As such, Aeneas’ story is relatively obscure.

When Peter traveled through the coastal town of Lydda, he encountered a man named Aeneas who had been incapacitated for eight years (Acts 9:33). In the name of Jesus, Peter healed Aeneas and the paralytic could instantly walk (Acts 9:34). The demonstrable change in Aeneas was enough to convert “all who lived” in the Mediterranean coastal cities of Lydda and Sharon (Acts 9:35). Aeneas was a walking witness to the power of Christ.

Little is known of Aeneas, including the exact diagnosis of his condition. The Greek word used is paraluo (Acts 9:33). This verb is used only five times in the New Testament, four falling in Luke-Acts (Luke 5:18, 24; Acts 8:7, 9:33; Hebrews 12:12). The word is always presented in the passive voice and literally means “to loose from the side”. As such, the term suggests that Aeneas was paralyzed as the result of a disease and not an accident. Some have suggested that he suffered from polio as there is evidence that poliomyelitis had been plaguing the Middle East since at least 1000 BCE. It can be certain that Aeneas was suffering from a chronic condition that was likely progressively deteriorating and presumed to be permanent.

Have you struggled with any problem for as long as eight years? What is the longest you have endured a particular trial? Did you lose hope?

The healing of Aeneas mirrors Jesus’ healing of a paralyzed man in Luke 5:18-26. One glaring commonality is that both Jesus and Peter relieved the formerly ill men of their stretchers (Luke 5:24, Acts 9:34). Their mats were no longer necessary, signs of past lives.

Is there anything you need to put in your past to more effectively follow Christ?

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