Acts 20:7-12 (NIV)
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 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. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
This episode all began when Paul, trying to cram as much instructional time as possible in before he left in the morning for Syria, had no end time planned for the class meeting.
People were soaking in all he was teaching and were asking many questions, so Paul kept teaching and answering with no end in sight. The room was lit with many lamps, as Luke points out, making the room acceptably bright, but also smoky and warm.
Eutychus, who was drowsy due to the lateness of the hour, had decided to sit on the windowsill of the upper room to get some fresh air and to catch the occasional cool breeze. But he was still nodding off and jerking awake from time to time.
Finally, at about midnight, Eutychus fell into a deep sleep, and when his body fully relaxed, he went toppling out of the third-floor window. Those standing nearby saw him go, and shouted as they raced down the stairs, followed by all the rest gathered in the room.
When they reached him, they found him dead, no pulse, zero breath. A wail rose up from his friends and family, a wail that was soon picked up by several others in the group.
But then came Paul. He pushed through the group, his prayer even then on his lips and his ears listening intently for the voice of the Lord, which he soon heard clearly. He bent over the still body, wrapped his arms around him, and proclaimed the Lord’s message to all those gathered there: “Don’t be alarmed. He’s alive!”
And sure enough, it was so. Eutychus opened his eyes, his face growing a bit troubled by the sight of the crowd gathered all around him. His family and friends gasped, dried their tears, and helped him back upstairs, where they found him a seat (away from the window) as Paul continue to teach until morning.
Some debate whether Eutychus was actually dead, or just unconscious. But the people in that time and place knew death when they saw it, and they knew that this young man was unquestionably dead. Add to that the fact that Luke, careful reporter that he was, had adequate skill to communicate the error in perception if one had occurred, but clearly reports that the young man “was picked up dead.”
The fact that he was dead, but then raised to life was no great surprise to those who knew God. God is able to raise the dead in an instant. He did so in the days of the apostles and is still able to do so today.
Father, it is sad sometimes to see how we will doubt the words of the witnesses present at miracles, based on nothing more than our own opinions of what is possible or likely. But it is clear that Luke only included this particular event in his record because it was a mighty miracle. Thank You for Your power working through Your people, the same power that You can and do use today. Amen.
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