On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said,Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.Acts 20:7-10
There are several very interesting aspects of this story. This is the first mention we have of the worship of the believers on the first day of the week, i.e., Sunday. This early in the Christian era they had shifted from Saturday to gathering on the first day of the week, the day of our Lord's resurrection. They evidently had met here for a communion service, and the apostle seized the occasion to teach them from the Scriptures. In his last evening there, before they gathered at the Lord's table, he took time to teach them further from the Scriptures. He went on at considerable length, prolonging his speech until midnight.
This has always been an encouraging passage to any pastor. It reveals that even the Apostle Paul had people go to sleep on him. Someone has said that the art of preaching is speaking in other people's sleep. This was certainly the case here. At any rate, Eutychus fought a losing battle against falling asleep. Luke, with his physician's eye, is easy on him. He tells us that there were many lamps in the upper chamber and each, of course, was burning up the oxygen. So, with the loss of oxygen in the atmosphere, and the late hour, and, perhaps, a long week's work behind him, and given Paul's long message, this young man was unable to hold out. He was seated in the window and fell into a deep sleep as Paul droned on, and so he fell from the third floor and was taken up dead.
Some question whether he actually died. But the issue is settled by a physician's testimony. It is Dr. Luke who says that they took him up dead. So when Paul, going down and falling over him and embracing him, said,
Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him, he did not mean he was still alive. He meant that his life had returned to him. Thus he was really used of God in the great miracle of raising this young lad from the dead.
Peter, of course, was involved in a similar miracle in the case of Dorcas. It was all the more remarkable in that she had been dead for several hours by the time he prayed for her. The ministries of these mighty apostles of God were confirmed by these unusual miracles, including this one of raising a young man from the dead.
Father, as I face life with its uncertainties, dangers and possibilities, I pray that I may do so with a sense of alertness to you and to my need for others within the body of Christ. Strengthen and surprise me with moments of joy and gladness which I could not have anticipated but which it is your delight to give.
Perhaps this incident will facilitate our awareness of many who have 'fallen asleep' in their walk with Christ. Are we available to be used of Him as He pursues them with His resurrection power -- through us?