Poor Eutychus! Doesn’t ring a bell?
In Acts 20, the Apostle Paul arrived at Troas, and all the disciples had gathered in a room to hear him. The Bible records that Paul “prolonged his speech until midnight” and that Eutychus “sank into a deep sleep” while sitting in the frame of an open window.
Did I mention the room was three stories up? Eutychus fell out of the window, hit the ground, and was pronounced dead. But in the goodness of God, Paul miraculously brought Eutychus back to life. What a story.
The truth is, some of us have been fortunate that we weren’t sitting in a third-story window frame during a Sunday service, right?
Preaching, the proclamation of God’s Word, is not always the most entertaining medium. I preach almost every Sunday, and even I get tired of hearing myself! But if you and I can discipline ourselves to stay awake and listen attentively, miraculous things still happen when God’s Word goes forth.
On July 8, 1741, the most famous sermon in American history was preached in the little town of Enfield, Connecticut. Today, Enfield is known for being the U.S. headquarters of the Danish toy manufacturer Lego. But on that day, Enfield became Ground Zero for the Great Awakening, when the Christian gospel blazed through New England and thousands became followers of Jesus.
The sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” was not preached by a dynamic evangelist with amazing visuals and captivating speech. Jonathan Edwards was a pastor of a small church in nearby Northampton, Massachusetts. He read his sermon in a monotone voice. He was so nearsighted he held his manuscript close to his face. He didn’t use jokes or contemporary illustrations to connect with his audience.
He just preached the Scriptures as simply and powerfully as he could. And God took it from there.
The people listening to the sermon were recorded as wailing and moaning loudly before he had even completed the sermon, crying out “What must I do to be saved?” Edwards was vivid in his use of judgment language: “The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.”
If God could use Jonathan Edwards and others like him to open the eyes of 28 million Americans to see their need of a Savior, God can use your pastor too … as long as he is faithful to preach the Word.
So be sure to sit up this Sunday and listen carefully. Take notes to help you pay attention. Bring a Bible along to look up the Scriptures yourself. You may just discover God doing something miraculous in your life.
Brian McCrorie is senior pastor of Heather Hills Baptist Church in Cumberland. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.