It was a time to gather as a community and break bread on the Lord’s Day. The Christians in Troas were glad to once more see their fellow brother in Christ, Paul, and to hear what words the Holy Spirit had inspired Paul to share with them. The day drew on, and the sun set. The sky darkened, night came, lamps were lit—and yet, Paul tirelessly continued to preach the good news to those gathered in the upper room. In the middle of this passage, Luke draws our attention to a boy by the name of Eutychus. Sitting in a window on the outskirts of the room, losing the battle between his attention and his eyelids, he was overcome by sleep. And, drifting off, Eutychus tipped out of the window, falling three stories to his death.
Various jokes about Paul’s “killer sermon” and its unlucky result aside, this particular event in Acts 20 has a lot of layers to it. The church has gathered to hear the gospel preached and to break bread in remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection—when suddenly, Eutychus. But watch how Paul and the church respond. Paul immediately stops his sermon, leaves the upper room and goes down to embrace Eutychus, who, after being declared dead, is suddenly resurrected. But Paul doesn’t let this event stop him from sharing the gospel. After performing a miracle, he returns to the intimacy of the upper room to worship and partake in communion. After all have eaten, Paul continues preaching until morning.
It’s easy to understand why these Christians were greatly comforted, encouraged, and inspired by what they experienced that night! Not only are they able to hear the gospel from the mouth of Paul and gather as a community, but on the day they were to break bread and celebrate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the beginning of a covenant of grace, they are eyewitnesses to the living power of the Holy Spirit that Christ wrought through his victory as Messiah. This same power that resurrected Christ now flows through Paul and the church as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to God’s Kingdom.
Easter is approaching. It is the day we celebrate an empty tomb and our risen King. Because of Christ, the old has gone and the new has come. Fear and death do not have the final say, but have been utterly defeated. He is the hope that we have, not only for his return that is to come, but the hope that comforts and strengthens us each and every day as our daily bread. The cross was not a place of defeat, but an absolute victory. Today, as the Church, we have the task of bearing witness to that power that conquered death and operating by that same power. We, as ambassadors of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, are called to bring life to this world where death and destruction want to take hold. So consider this: How is God calling you to be an instrument of life?