Many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. They all used to assemble in Solomon’s Portico. 13 No one else dared to join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 More believers, men and women, were constantly being added to their ranks. 15 People brought those who were sick into the streets and placed them on cots and mats so that when Peter passed by, his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 A large number of people also came from the neighboring towns around Jerusalem, bringing with them the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured. (Acts 5:12-16)
We’ve all read those chapters in Acts. We all know how vibrant the early church was, how amazing, how miraculous. Recapturing the Church of Acts has been the explicitly stated goal of many a start-up congregation over the centuries. And the why is easy to see.
They were performing miracles. They were healing the sick. Casting out demons. They gathered, and people flocked to them. Believers were being added constantly to their ranks.
I’ve read this chapter countless times, marveled each and every time over Peter’s very shadow being part of healing. This time, I just want to dwell with that thought for a minute, and I hope you’ll dwell with me.
There are, as usual, several parts to these miracles. First, people have to believe enough, have faith enough to come. In this case, I have to think that often it was not only the sick person with faith, but the friends and family members. They believed so much in the apostles’ ability to continue the healing work of Christ, that they brought their loved ones to them. Not enough room at the Portico? That wasn’t going to stop them–they’d line the streets. Crowds too big to actually get Peter’s attention? His shadow would suffice.
His shadow. Think about that.
Generally when we think of shadows and darkness and the blocking of light, we think of evil. Something, after all, in the way of the light. But this is a unique kind of shadow. This is a literal blocking of sunlight, sure. Peter, standing between the sick person and the sun.
Peter, standing between the sick person and the Son. But standing there, not as a block or a filter, but as a mirror. Reflecting that Light even as he blocked the sunlight. Walking in that authority. Sharing it with all who dared to believe.
Do we dare? Do we dare to believe enough to seek the shadows of the faithful, knowing that their mere presence can impart His blessing upon us? Do we dare to believe anyone can really act that much in Christ’s stead? Do we believe we can be so full of Christ that His will shine that brightly through us? Do our shadows, when coupled with the faith of our fellow believers, result in healing?
The Church of Acts didn’t vanish, my friends. It’s still alive and vibrant. It’s still here, we are still its members. And do you know how to tell if you or anyone else still has that kind of authority? You show up. You do the work. You do it every day. You walk like Peter walked, like Paul walked, like Jesus himself walked. You look for the people who need His touch.
You shine the light. You cast the shadow. You put yourself there, an intercessor between God and whoever needs His touch. You do it always, every day.
And then you watch the people keep coming. Because if we’re truly walking in His light, people will come. They’ll be drawn to it. If they aren’t…then maybe we’re living in shadows instead of casting them.