21 December 2007

Acts 5:12-16

"Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter's shadow might fall on them as he came by." (v.14-15)


Today's reading moves us into the time of the very early Church. Jesus has ministered, died and risen.

Now his associates - the apostles - are out and about in a ministry of healing with "many signs and wonders" (v.12). For many of the onlookers, this may not have seemed a lot different from what Jesus himself had been doing, even though it made a great impression on them.

In this account, it seems to be witnessing the apostles' works of healing that leads people to faith in Jesus.

But for the apostles themselves, it must have been hugely significant to have discovered that Jesus' healing work was still very much evident in and through their own ministry. This had been a matter for their prayers a little earlier (Acts 4:29-31).

And this account offers modern-day believers the hope and expectation that Jesus continues to heal through his friends today. It is not simply the Gospel stories that fulfil the prophets' hopes - we are still living in this age of fulfilment.

To Ponder

How far is healing ministry an integral part of being Church?

What are your experiences and expectations of Jesus' healing for yourself and those around you?

Bible notes author

The Revd Peter Byass

Peter is a Methodist minister who spends a large part of his time working on the global health scene, from his working base as professor of Global Health at the University of Umeå (in Sweden) and on frequent field visits. Until recently he also chaired the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF).