תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Primary Topic : WHAT A KIND WOMAN DID.

Lesson Material : Acts 9 : 36-42.

Memory Verse : This woman was full of good works. Acts 9:36. Junior Topic : What PETER DID AT LYDDA AND JOPPA.

Lesson Material : Acts 9 : 32–43.

Memory Verses : Matt. 10:7, 8. Intermediate and Senior Topic : THE BEAUTY AND INFLUENCE OF AN UNSELFISH

LIFE.

Additional Material : Ruth 2:1-23; Ps. 41 :1-3 ; Prov. 31 : 20. Topic for Young People and Adults : THE SECRET OF SPIRITUAL POWER.

Additional Material : Mark 9 : 28, 29 ; Luke 5:16, 17; 6:12, 19; Eph. 3 :

14-19.

THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS. Jaffa, is a port on the Mediterranean Sea

from which a railroad has for some years “Tell it again how often we hear run to Jerusalem. this from the lips of the little child when Lydda is 13 miles S.E. of Joppa, 25 he recognizes the beginning of a well- miles n.w. of Jerusalem. known story.

Saron (v. 35) is the Old Testament Many of the Bible stories are familiar Sharon, a rich district of the maritime to most of us particularly to those plain along the coast of the Mediterranean who have been brought up by a Bible- north of Joppa. loving mother, but none perhaps more familiar than the healing of the man

THE ROUND TABLE. with the palsy and the raising of Tabitha from the dead.

FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION. A lesson on familiar stories such as Causes of the rest from persecution. these is a splendid place for the teacher The conversion of Saul. who has been led into the temptation of A word picture of Lydda, then and now. telling the story and drawing out the A word picture of Joppa, then and now. application himself, to begin to reform Dorcas societies in the history of the church. by developing the ideas from the pupils The organization of our class for work. themselves. The pupils in all the grades The spiritual value of unselfish service. will welcome the opportunity to study in this lesson the beauty and value of

THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY. unselfishness, and it can be illustrated not only by the story of Dorcas, but by Books and commentaries on the Acts many incidents known to themselves. and on Péter as given in other lessons. All can make the practical application Ramsay's Pictures of the Apostolic Church. of their own duty and some can show Adeney's Women of the New Testament. the fruits of unselfishness in their own Women of the Bible, chapter by Rev. Geo. life.

Milligan, D.D. Dr. J. R. Miller's PracThe Intermediate and Senior grades tical Religion. Poems by Geo. Macwill add to this the influence of Dorcas donald and Thomas Toke Lynch. Mrs. on the work of the church and can find Charles' story, The Victory of the Vanother examples of unselfish help to others quished. Sheldon's Robert Hardy's Seven in other parts of the Bible.

Days. Lazarus and Other Poems, by The Young People and Adults, using Plumptre. also their Additional Material, will note the connection between prayer and power,

PLAN OF THE LESSON. can trace the same connection in the life of Jesus, and draw conclusions as to how SUBJECT : Peter Doing Wonderful they themselves can acquire the spiritual

Works. power which will make them a true source of help to others.

I. THE PROGRESS OF THE CHURCH,

Acts 9:1-31.

II. PETER RESTORES ÆNEAS THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.

HEALTH, Vs. 32–35.

III. PETER RESTORES DORCAS TO LIFE, Time. Between A.D. 38 and 41.

vs. 36-43. Not long after the conversion of Paul. IV. THE BEAUTY AND INFLUENCE OF Place. — The two neighboring cities

AN UNSELFISH LIFE. of Lydda and Joppa. Joppa, the modern V. THE SECRET OF SPIRITUAL Power.

TO

32. And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

I. THE PROGRESS OF THE CHURCH, Acts 9:1-31. (1) THE CONVERSION OF SAUL OF TARSUS, vs. 1–30. The most marked event or epoch in the story of the progress of Christianity was the conversion of Saul, who afterwards became Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles. We have seen him as the leader in the great persecution of the Christians which led to the scattering of the disciples all over the country, and the spread of the preaching of the Gospel to Samaria, and other places where it would not have gone so soon under other circumstances. In the very midst of this persecution Saul is halted. On his way to Damascus for the express purpose of arresting the Christians there, he sees the risen Christ, and as a result of the vision himself becomes a Christian.

(2) REST FROM PERSECUTION, V. 31. The conversion of Saul put an end to a large measure of the persecution, where he had been the leader. Another cause of the cessation from persecution lay in the troubles the Jews themselves were having with their Roman rulers. They were fully occupied with their own troubles so that the infant Church enjoyed a period of four or five years of rest. It was a time of outward peace, of rest from conflict, and hence a season of growth, of spiritual development, of Christian activity:

The result of the daily life of the Christians and their character was that “the church. was multiplied.” Not only in numbers but in quality and value. Every additional gift or virtue or talent in a man, or in a church, is not merely so much added, but is a multiplier, for it increases the value of each and every other gift.

II. PETER RESTORES ÆNEAS TO HEALTH, vs. 32–35. During the times of persecution the apostles remained in Jerusalem, and we hear of only one visit made to any other place, that to Samaria, where Peter and John went to investigate the stories of the conversion of the Samaritans and make sure that it was the will of the Lord that they as well as the Jews should be admitted to the new Kingdom of God which Christ and his disciples were preaching.

But after the cessation of the persecution it was most natural that the apostles should make many missionary tours around the country of the Jews, for that had been Jesus' method of teaching, and they had been trained in that method during their life with him. So Peter went everywhere visiting and encouraging and teaching the new churches formed by the persecuted Christians, and keeping them in touch with the apostolic church at Jerusalem. The accounts which follow may fairly be taken as specimens of many such journeys of progress, inspection, and helpfulness.

Peter did more for the church at Jerusalem by going on these evangelizing tours than by concentrating all energies on Jerusalem alone. Work beyond its borders always aids the home church. “It is like the dew of heaven. It is twice blessed; it blesses him that gives, and him that takes."

32. The saints, the

Christians, which dwelt at Lydda. Lydda, in the rich plain of

From a photograph by Bonals.

General View of Modern Lydda. Sharon in northwestern Judea, was a city of considerable size, about a day's journey from Jerusalem. “ The valley of Sharon, the ideal Sharon of Hebrew poetry, formed a rich and wellwatered pasturage, extending along the western base of the Carmel range, between the mountains and the sandy strip of seashore, as far south as the neighborhood of Joppa. Lydda was the principal centre of population in the southern portion of the 33. And there he found a certain man named Æneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.

[graphic]

34. And Peter said unto him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole : arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

35. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

36. Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

valley.” It is called Lod in the Old Testament (1 Chron. 8:12), and Ludd in modern Arabic. “ The modern village is very dilapidated, a haunt of dirt diseases, the effect of modern squalor being intensified by the presence of noble ruins testifying to former prosperity.” Hastings.

33. As Peter went about doing good he found a certain man named Æneas, "a corrupt form of the classical Æneas," the middle syllable being short (Æ'ně-as).

Though Æneas is not called a disciple this appears to be implied in the statement that Peter was visiting the ' saints.' Peter's cure in the name of Jesus Christ makes it almost necessary to suppose that Æneas had faith in Jesus.” Professor Gilbert.

Note that Peter “ found Æneas. It was not chance, but providence, in connection with his own seeking for ways to help others.

Eight years, stated to show that the cure was miraculous. Palsy, a contraction of the word "paralysis," was used by the ancient physicians in a much wider sense than to-day, and included not only what we call paralysis, which is rarely very painful, but also catalepsy and tetanus, i.e. cramps and lockjaw, both of which are very painful and dangerous.

34. Very quietly (especially when contrasted with the methods of the exorcists of that day), yet with an intensity of faith, Peter said unto him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole (Am. R.). This translation is a very expressive term for complete health, where every part of the body is present and in perfect condition. It is the type of the healing of the soul from sin, into the perfection of the soul's nature and activities.

Peter gave all the credit where it belonged. It was Jesus, the living Christ, who has done the miracle through Peter, and it was this fact that caused all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron (Sharon) to turn to the Lord (v. 35).

Arise and make thy bed. The bed was a mat or rug of sheepskins, or quilted coverlet. The simple act of rolling this up, and stowing it away, is here called making the bed. Peter bade him perform for himself this service in order (1) to quicken and test the man's faith ; (2) to prove the reality of the cure ; and (3) very probably in direct imitation of the act of Christ in a similar miracle (Mark 2 : 11, 12). In the same way in modern times a wise pastor or friend, when one has been raised from the sickness of sin to the new life in Christ, will set him to work for Christ in the church and Sunday School and home, knowing that nothing consolidates Christian character like Christian labors.

“What a vivid belief these early Christians had ! It required no small faith in the reality of the Lord's presence and of his power to heal to say Rise' to a man who had been bed-ridden for eight years.” Dean Furneaux.

III. PETER RESTORES DORĆAS TO LIFE, vs. 36–43. There was at Joppa, the modern Jaffa, nine or ten miles northwest of Lydda, thirty-five miles northwest of Jerusalem. It has for centuries been one of the most frequented harbors of the Palestinian coast, although entrance is perilous except in the most quiet sea. We

[graphic]

Oriental Beds.

as

hear of its use as far back as the time of Solomon, when materials for the temple were brought thither by sea from Lebanon. All through the centuries we hear of it, either its use as a seaport, or its siege by enemies, which again proves its value as a port.

A certain disciple, a notable Christian as we see from the story. Named Tabitha (her Hebrew name) or Dorcas (her Greek name). The two names have the same meaning, “gazelle,” which in the East was a favorite type of beauty. We do not

know whether this expresses her appearance

“a lovely and beautiful woman, full of alertness and grace; or her spiritual loveliness and grace, which all can have, and which brings an attractiveness that no outward grace alone can produce.”

There is no way to be so attractive, personally, as to be full of good works done in the most graceful, that is, heavenly manner. "'I will make you,” said the Roman

maiden, “ love me not Site of the House of Tabitha, near Joppa.

only in spite of my

deformity, but because of it.” So good works can transform even homeliness into charm, as in the reflection of the rays we forget the form of the jewel.

The Most Beautiful Hands. “An old legend says that once three young ladies disputed about their hands, as to whose were the most beautiful. One of them dipped her hands in the pure stream, another plucked berries till her fingers were pink, and the third gathered flowers whose fragrance clung to her hands. An old haggard woman passed by and asked for some gift, but all refused her. Another young woman, plain, and with no claim to beauty of hand, satisfied her need. The old woman then said, 'It is not the hand that is washed in the brook, nor the hand tinted with red, nor the hand garlanded and perfumed with flowers that is most beautiful, but the hand that gives to the poor.' As she spoke, her wrinkles were gone, her staff was thrown away, and she stood there an angel from heaven.” J. R. Miller.

Full of good works and almsdeeds, especially in making coats and garments for widows (v. 39), who in that country were a most unfortunate class. She was full, not of works she thought of and dreamed of doing, but of works which she did, was in the habit of doing, which is implied in the use of the imperfect tense for the verb did.

Good Works. 1. Good works for the poor are characteristic of the Christian religion, as Christ commanded (Matt. 25).

2. They are proofs of discipleship (Matt. 25 : 34-46 ; Jas. 1 : 27). Not much flows from the stagnant pool of formal religion, but much from a fountain of living water in the soul. Good trees must bring forth good fruits in their season.

We are God's children when we do God's works.

3. The personal element, the giving of one's self with the gift, is a necessary part of good works for the sick and poor. It is as necessary for the giver as for the receiver.

Queen Maud, the wife of Henry I, went down amidst the poor and washed their sores, and administered to them cordials.” Talmage. So in later times Queen Elena of Italy went among the sufferers from the earthquake in Messina, and into the hospitals during the Great War. So Queen Mary of England, also, serves her people in helping the sick and wounded. “If I might guess, then guess I would :

“She saw the woven, seamless coat
Amid the gathered folk,

Half envious for his sake:
This gentle Dorcas one day stood,

'Oh, happy hands,' she said, 'that wrought
And heard what Jesus spoke.

That honored thing to make!'

[graphic]

66

37. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died : whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

. 38. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

39. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

40. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

"Her eyes with longing tears grew dim,

She never can come nigh
To work one service poor for him

For whom she glad would die!

““The king shall answer, Inasmuch

As to my brothers ye
Did it — even to the least of such

Ye did it unto me.'

“But hark! he speaks a mighty word;

Home, home she went, and plied the loom She hearkens now indeed!

And Jesus' poor arrayed.
'When did we see thee naked, Lord,

She died -- - they wept about the room,
And clothed thee in thy need?

And showed the coats she made."

George Macdonald. 37. Dorcas was taken sick and died. Possibly as a martyr to her over-exertions in behalf of the poor ; and she may wear a martyr's crown as really as Stephen and Peter.

"These, though their names appear not on the scroll
Of martyrologists, laid down their life
Not less a martyrdom in Jesus' eyes
For his dear brethren's sake, watching the couch
Of loathsome sickness, or of slow decay,
Or visiting the captive in his cel
Or struggling with a burden not their own
Until their weary life-strings wore away,
These, too, are martyrs, brother." Bickersteth.

“The

Peter was still at Lydda when Dorcas died. The only possible hope of her restoration was the fact that Peter had not left that region. Still it does not seem that the friends of Dorcas really dared to hope for the raising of Dorcas from the dead. We do not know that Peter had ever worked such a miracle as this, or that he did so later. Very possibly all that they wanted was to have him with them, to tell him all their trouble and sorrow, and all the beautiful deeds of Dorcas, and receive his sympathy in their grief.

Two men were sent as quickly as possible to beg him to come to Joppa. He was only about nine miles distant, less than three hours' walk ; they could get him in six hours.

39. When he was come the widows stood by him weeping. The poor widows for whom Dorcas had made the coats, “ closefitting undergarments." word was used in classical Greek of men and women, more perhaps like a dressinggown or cassock.” Garments,“ long-flowing outer robes or mantles,” with the thought of abundance and multitude. Shewing. By pointing to the garments they had on (so the Greek implies).

40. Peter put them all forth. This was a most natural reminiscence of what Peter had seen Jesus do in the case of Jairus' daughter. (It is interesting to note in this case of Dorcas how many things show Peter's vivid memory of what Jesus had done in his presence.) This would keep him from interruption; he could concentrate his mind on the Lord's will in the matter ; it would avoid all appearance of display. Probably Peter did not know at first what the result would be. Kneeled down, and prayed to learn the Lord's will, and to receive his power, to be filled with the Spirit as at Pentecost.

Tabitha, arise. If he used the Aramaic, the common language, the expression would be Tabitha cumi, differing but in one letter from the Talitha cumi of Mark 5 : 41, which he heard the Master speak in the sickroom at Capernaum.

« הקודםהמשך »