#107 "Picked up Dead"
July 31, 2007
"Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead." (Acts 20: 9)
I try not to get distracted when I'm in the middle of preaching a message and babies start having fits. Or the days when "inebriated at 11:00 in the morning" listeners decide to get a little loud. I really thought it was bad last week, when in the middle of my sermon a man in the back fell out and EMS had to be called. Imagine how Paul must have felt when in the middle of his message, (one that he felt would be the last one before these disciples would be permanently without his presence), he was interrupted by tragedy. Now granted, Paul was going "on and on". But Luke emphasizes the speech's length: it extended from midnight and, then, after the Lord's Supper-fellowship meal, until daybreak.
You know how you feel after eating a good meal? Full, satisfied and ... sleepy? Add to that a crowded upper room. Warm and close. There is a greasy, foul odor in the air from the many oil lamps. It's stuffy and smoky. The lamps are consuming the oxygen in the room and a young boy of about seven to fourteen years old, tries to catch the night air by sitting on a windowsill. Hypnotized by the flickering of the lights and Paul talking on and on, his drowsiness increases until he falls into a deep sleep and worse yet, falls out of the third story window. The Bible tells us that he was "picked up dead". Young's Literal Translation says that "he was lifted up dead." Now just so you don't think he was just unconscious...the word "dead" in the Greek used here means just that..."dead"! It comes from the Greek word "nekus", a corpse. Doctor Luke was there and I imagine he pronounced the lad dead on the spot. It's a rather comical story. Especially when I found that the meaning of the boy's name, Eutychus, means, "fortunate". In Latin, his name is "Fortunatus". Some good fortune to fall out a window!
Comical story...well maybe not. How many of us who are in our pews, in the middle of our Christian service, in our ministry or in our fellowship, are falling out of windows and being picked up dead? Everything looks good on the outside. But, how many of us feel like corpses on the inside? Right in the middle of church and all of our Godly activity. If anybody really knew...would they be picking you up dead? You may not have fallen out of a window. You may have fallen off the wagon of your sobriety. It may not be the foul odor of oil lamps that you smell. It may be the foul odor of your own personal sin. That one that you just can't stop succumbing to. The lamps aren't consuming your oxygen but every time you think about your crumbling marriage, your child who's in trouble, or your dwindling finances, it's so hard to breathe. Your soul and your spirit, your mind and your emotions, just want to get near a window for a breath of fresh, cool air. You may have been pushed out that window and left for dead by someone else's abuse or rejection. I don't know who this message is for today or what exactly has left you a walking corpse, but this passage of Scripture speaks these words to you today...."Your life is in you. Repeat. There is life in you yet."
Even when the fortunate one appeared utterly dead, the apostle Paul was so convinced of what Christ's power could do that he said, "Don't be alarmed." ["Trouble not yourselves" KJV] "His life is in him. He's alive". There is life in you today, my friend. There are those hopes and dreams that you think are crushed by your circumstances. The devil is a liar. God put those dreams inside of you. No one or no thing can take them away. There is a plan for your life (see Jeremiah 29:11). A plan declared over you by God. And when God declares something, it always come to pass. Be confident. Have faith. Even if that faith is only as small as a mustard seed. Even if the life inside of you is only as small as a mustard seed. It's there. Don't be alarmed. Trouble not yourself. Life is in you. Because Christ is in you. You have life, in abundance, to the full, until it overflows. (John 10: 10)
The apostle Paul may be gone. He won't throw himself on you to bring you back to life. But the Lord is not gone. And He has left tokens of His grace for all who would be encouraged. He left the story of the restored Eutychus. He left His Spirit-enabled grace, and He left His Word. This was a tragic story. Your story may be just as tragic. Your situation may seem as dead as that young boy. But Jesus Christ came back to life. Through Him Eutychus came back to life and so can you. Eutychus really was "fortunate". Don't give up just because you fell. Don't miss the miracle of God in your life by trying to run away from Him. Your situation is not too hard for Jesus. You can be taken home alive like Eutychus.
Maybe this incident inspired Paul to write these words in his letter to his friends in the city of Corinth. He had to put the theology of what had just happened in writing - the church had to hear these words... "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Without Eutychus being picked up dead, Paul may never have had the inspiration for these words. Without whatever is happening in your life, you will never see that it has no power over you. You will never see that dead thing come back to life. The victory is yours! You are not a victim to your circumstance. Your circumstance is a victim to your God! You may be picked up dead, but you will be taken home alive and greatly comforted.
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