“God did extraordinary miracles through the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and the diseases and evil spirits left them.” Acts 19:11-12
Something about this passage just popped out at me today. It said that Paul was performing extraordinary miracles! Not your average, run-of-the-mill, everyday miracles. No, EXTRA-ordinary!
And whatever these beyond-awesome miracles were, the power by which they manifested was so intense that the objects that he touched—no matter how menial the object (like a cloth for wiping the nose or the sweat from the brow), carried enough divine, residual frequency to heal the sick and send demons packing!
This got me thinking…thinking about supernatural objects and places all around the world, that have been said to be imbued with supernatural power to heal the soul and body, scare off evil spirits, give supernatural strength, and more!
Even the Church, if you dig through her history, has had her share of relics and totems for such uses. I wouldn’t doubt that Vatican Library probably has volumes and volumes on the subject.
But I’ve always been a bit suspect about such things. Partly, because at times they drift very close towards the spirit of witchcraft and manipulation. But mostly because I’ve always felt that giving too much importance to the signpost, detracted from the looking beyond and magnifying the real source: life and power of Yeshua.
As such, I’ve considered them to be extra-gospel because they do not seem to meet the gospel requirements of being accessible for every person, of every place and of every time.
But here in Acts 19 we see such a phenomenon. We see an object of no great appearance or esteem, carrying the residue of the divine power within it to cause the supernatural to manifest among men. This is certainly an extraordinarily, wonderful a thing!
How convenient. How expedient, you might say!
Paul didn’t have to travel everywhere in order for his work to reach more people. All he had to do now, was pray over some object and send it on its way to some distant place to heal the sick and delivery people from torment. Talk about a scalable ministry model!
There are, of course, other similar extraordinary examples in the scripture: the dead man raised to life again by being buried with the bone of a dead prophet; the pool of Bethesda where the angel-stirred water became empowered to heal, and the phenomenal stories that swirl around Moses’ “wizard’s staff”.
They’re all crazy, wild stories of supernatural disruption of nature’s laws. I love them. They are inspiring!
But when not viewed through proper eyes, and studied with divine observation, they eventually lead the ignorant and immature on wild goose chases—searching for the ever elusive “fountain of youth”, the perfect fix for what ails them. Pursuing the objects of power instead of the power source, Himself.
To borrow the word’s of Yeshua, “You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes it sacred?” (Matthew 23:19)
I guess another way of saying it, “You’re missing the forest between the trees, man!”
Now, Matthew 23 deals with a larger issue than the one I’m focusing on, but one of the takeaways in this passages, is that Yeshua is criticizing the religious people of practicing vanity by creating a value system based on holy objects and methodologies.
He was calling out their self-righteousness, which was built upon objects, proper protocols and man-made procedures that only served to puff up their egos but did nothing for their spirit, soul, or body.
One thing that I’ve observed is that church history is full potholes and errant off-ramps that have produced much of the same problems that Yeshua addressed with Israel. Going after relics and totems of power in the same way, the Church also forgot where its real source was at. And still into the modern age, it has continued in the same way, by exchange objects of power with protocols and procedures to work up supernatural lives of holiness.
First, running after handkerchief’s imbued with power, and when the power stopped working, the Church decided that such things were “not for today” and moved on to better things of protocol and procedure; hailing them as proven method by which we can receive holiness and salvation.
If the power is not in the object anymore, then it must be in the correct protocols of the empowered life to get what we want. Right?
Yeah, well go ask the sons of Sceva about protocols and methodology.
“Now there were some itinerant Jewish exorcists who tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits. They would say, “I bind you by Jesus, whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. Eventually, one of the evil spirits answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. The attack was so violent that they ran out of the house naked and wounded.” (Acts 19:13-15)
They used the proper name—the name above ALL names, Right? They used a procedure that had worked for others, but it didn’t work for them. Perhaps they had even seen Paul evoke that name. So why didn’t it work for them?
Because they used it. They used it like a lucky charm, like a magic word, like a relic or totem. But they had no real understanding of that beautiful name, nor its source of power, and therefore suffered greatly because of their ignorance.
So how did Paul “leverage” the name of Yeshua—to operate in such extraordinary miracles? And why did the Demons know his name so well? I’m certain it wasn’t because he was wearing holy underwear, or because he was using the latest prayer models to achieve great signs and wonders. It was because he knew the Man who owned it, and the Man knew him!
More precisely, he knew the Man inside of him, with whom he shared a supernatural relationship. His power—his authority—came from a relational understanding of be one with Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah); to have His name written upon him, and to be positioned in that name.
Unlike Sceva’s sons, who wielded Christ’s name like a magic incantation, Paul operated supernaturally from within the name. He was positioned in the name above all names, and from there could access the limitless supply of divine power, and the full governmental force support of the owner of that name.
When we begin to act and speak from the position within the Name, rather than using it like a tag line at the beginning or end of a sentence, we begin to experience and understand this: in the Kingdom of Heaven, positional relationship always trumps knowledge and protocol.
Learning to stand relationally positioned within Yeshua, within the name, we become the objects of power—the living breathing, potent sign-post of power pointing to the true Source.
Looks like I’ve some practicing to do…
Now, where did my wife put her kitchen apron?