- Sermon Notes
Going Deep on Falling Asleep in Church
Illus. Some things to know about nodding off!
As we turn to Acts 20 this morning, we see Paul continuing on his third missionary journey, he has left Ephesus after a great uproar against the church and is on his way to Jerusalem. On his way he heads to a region he had previously established churches gave them much encouragement. Then he heads to Greece (specifically Corinth) for three months. After that, he was planning to head south toward Jerusalem and set sail to Syria, but he learns of a plot that was being formed against him by the Jews, so ends up going back north. Sails from Philippi to Troas, and stays there for seven days.
Troas, you might remember from Acts 16. It was the city that Paul ended up going to after he wanted to go to Asia Minor, but the Holy Spirit would not allow him to go when he wanted to. Paul instead goes to Troas and it is there that he received a vision in the night of a man imploring Paul to go to Macedonia to help them. Paul knew it was a vision from the Lord, and left to Macedonia from there. In Macedonia the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea would be established; therefore, what happened in Troas was quite pivotal for Paul’s ministry.
Here in Acts 20, he is back. For seven days he would stay there and would remain there long enough to teach and preach at the Sunday service there. And it becomes quite a memorable service, we don’t know the specifics of the sermon, but we aren’t the only one who don’t know the details of the sermon. There was a young man there who had come to gather with the believers and hear Paul preach, but he is overcome by drowsiness and not only falls into a deep sleep, but out the window of the buildings third story.
Read: Acts 20:7-12
The story here in Acts 20, though it could have been a concerning and sad story if the story had stopped after the young man fell down and lost his life. But it does not end up a sad and concerning story, but rather a somewhat comical but ultimately powerful story about how a young man fell asleep and out of a third story window during a long sermon, but was restored to full health, and the people who were troubled by the fall, end up being greatly comforted after it all.
As we study out this story this morning, however, we aren’t just going to look at what happened on that day. By we are going to end up going deep to find some ways that this story might speak to us today about falling asleep in church. What we will do is move beyond the reality of a funny story or occasional circumstance of a person physically falling asleep in church’ and move a bit deeper into something that we can all find ourselves vulnerable to, that is falling asleep spiritually.
We will look at the specifics associated with the story, and then go deeper into how a scene like Acts 20 can happen in our lives spiritually, while recognizing our opportunity come back from where we find ourselves after falling asleep.
- Realize There is Danger to Spiritual Drowsiness
Acts 20:7(a), On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them…
- We will talk a little more about the drowsy young man, but first, I want to note a couple of observations about his circumstances and situation, as well as those around him (the church).
- What is provided in Acts 20 is actually one of the earliest descriptions on record of an early church gathering, which makes some of the details noteworthy.
- From verse seven, we know that the church gathering was taking place on the first day of the week, this would put the gathering on a Sunday.
- They were there breaking bread, which was likely what is known as an “agape feast.” An agape feast was an early church gathering where the people would gather together and bring their own dishes and fellowship together over a meal.
- The word would then be taught, and communion would be taken.
- The place they gathered was an upper room. It was the upper room of a house. Early New Testament churches met in homes (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15). The earliest known building that was built for the purpose of holding Christian church is noted as being built between 293 and 303AD.
- Some Bible students assert that they know the exact house where Paul preached in Troas. They assert this because Paul wrote the following to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13, “Bring the overcoat which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.”
- So, some believe this meeting took place at the house of Carpus.
- I also mentioned that the meeting was on a Sunday. This is significant because they are not meeting on the Sabbath day (Saturday), but on Sunday, the first day of the week.
- The church was meeting on the first day to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- The fact that the church was worshipping on a Sunday was difficult for many in that day, and can at times be difficult for some in our day today.
Colossians 2:16-18, No one is to act as your judge in regard to food and drink, or in respect to a festival or a new moon, or a Sabbath day— things which are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Romans 14:5-6(a), One person values one day over another, another values every day the same. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it for the Lord…
- I make a point of the day they were gathering in Acts 20 because, their gathering being on Sunday, meant that it was the evening of the first day of the work week.
- In those days it was not a five-day work week, but a six day work week. So, it was after a long workday, that the people gathered together in Troas.
Acts 20:7(b)-9(a), …Intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs 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, Eutychus was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor, and was picked up dead.
- So, after a long first day of the work week, the people are gathered, and their long workday is followed by a long sermon and the young man gets drowsy, and then begins sinking into a deep sleep.
Illus. What to do.
- This was Paul’s last day in Troas, likely the last time he would see any of the people from this church body. Paul had a lot to say, and he just continues on sharing.
- As Paul carries on until midnight, the young man sitting in the windowsill becomes drowsy.
- And we can look at the situation and understand why that might be happening, but his drowsiness was dangerous because he was sitting in an “exit row seat” right out of the third story.
- There was a danger to his drowsiness because his slumber would result in a fall.
- And as we drill a bit deeper, from the physical reality in Acts 20, to its spiritual application for you and me, we recognize that there is danger to drowsiness Spiritually.
- Just as there were factors associated with the place the young man was sitting in that upper room, there are factors associated with the places we find ourselves seated when it comes to spiritual things.
- Like the young man, we experience long days (or long and wearying seasons of spiritual difficulty), we are full of some things (news, opinions, etc.), we find ourselves in “hot rooms” that can be quite stuffy…We can find ourselves drowsy spiritually, unable to hear any sermon, much less a long one. Perhaps you find yourself in an exit window seat, but there is danger to the place you are sitting.
- For Eutychus it was a process, a long day, large meal, as seat near the window, then he is seen sinking to sleep, then overcome by sleep, and falling down.
- Be Overcome by Christ, Not Conditions
- From Verse 9 we know a couple things about what was going on with Eutychus.
- First, we are told he was sinking into a deep sleep, Paul kept on talking, and then we learn that Eutychus was “overcome” by sleep.
- The words sinking, and overcome have the same root word in Greek, but depict different outcomes.
- First he is sinking into a slumber, it was gradual, as Paul kept on talking, sleep kept on calling. Then, he was overcome by sleep.
- That Greek is defined as that which over rules, overcomes another or brings them down by a vote.
- Sleep and drowsiness were continually casting their vote, and they cast their vote until the case of Eutychus, they had won.
Illus. What it looks like.
Illus. Snooze Button.
1 Peter 5:8, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Ephesians 5:13-14, All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, You are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then, let’s not sleep as others do, but let’s be alert and sober.
Romans 13:11, the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
Illus. Sleepy Samson.
III. Know that if You Have Fallen Down, There is One You Can Call Right Now
Acts 20:9-12, Eutychus 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 he is still alive.” When Paul had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. They took away the boy alive and were greatly comforted.
- Eutychus fell asleep and then fell out the window from the third story. Luke, a physician, declares that the young man was dead.
- Catch what happens next, Paul takes a break from preaching when the fall happened at about midnight and goes down to the place where Eutychus lay dead.
- He fell upon him, embraced him, and then came these words, “do not be troubled, he is still alive.”
- Paul then goes back upstairs, they take communion together, and then he keeps on preaching until the morning.
- After Paul was done preaching, the boy was alive, and the people were greatly comforted.
- I would imagine that the drowsiness from the first few hours of preaching, was all gone as he went back upstairs and continued into part two.
- The young man had fallen, but Paul was called in and he was healed. The people were greatly comforted.
- In closing, I want to sum up the title “going deep on falling asleep in Church,” by telling you that if you have fallen down, there is one you can call on right now.
- His name is not Paul, His name is Jesus.
- Jesus did not come down three stories and then come down on you in order to embrace you and make a declaration regarding your life.
- Rather, Jesus came down from glory, not coming down on you, but coming to you, embracing not only you but a cross, where He would die and conquer sin, and be resurrected, so that eternal life could be yours if you would give Him your life.
- Jesus came down to you, so that He could say of you “do not be troubled, this one is still alive.”
- The word for troubled there means to be disturbed, turbulent, troubled in mind, or confused.
- It is the same word that is used to describe a crowd Jesus came to in Matthew chapter 9.
- A father named Jairus sought Jesus regarding his daughter who was dying. He called on Jesus, asking Him to lay his hand on her so that she would live.
- From Luke 8, we know that while they were on their way, some people came to the father and to him not to trouble Jesus with the issue, as they confirmed that his daughter had died.
- But when Jesus heard the report, He responded, “do not be afraid any longer, only believe and she will be made well.” (Luke 8:50)
Matthew 9:23-25, When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. This news spread throughout all that land.
- Upon arriving to the home, there are flute players and a crowd of mourners in a noisy disorder.
- Funerals were characterized by loud wailing and mourning from hired professional mourners and musicians.
- Even the poorest families would hire at least two flute players and one wailing woman. If a person had greater wealth, there would be more hired mourners.
- Jesus sees the crowd of mourners, and immediately tells them to leave, the girl has not died, she is asleep.
- Everyone in the room knew that physically, the girl was dead.
- The “professionals” in the room who were there mourning, quickly began laughing at Jesus’ statement, believing there was nothing He could do for this girl.
- When Jesus is about to do what only He can in your life many voices will be present at the scene… You’ve gone too far. You are beyond the point of Jesus’ bringing you back. Are you joking? That’s laughable!
- Whenever Jesus wants to work in your life, or in the midst of your situation, there will be doubters.
- They laughed there way all the way out the door. There was no room for their doubt.
Illus. And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief…Matthew 13:58.
- Taking her by the hand, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”. Immediately the girl got up and began to walk (Mark 5:41-42). Showing His power over death that would soon be conquered for all.
1 Corinthians 15:57, But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Illus. Sleep Diagnosis.
- Jesus came, so that you would not need to be overcome by your conditions, but so that you could be overcome by Him. And if you have fallen down, you can call on Him right now.
1 Corinthians 15:57, The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:5, Who is the one who overcomes the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
7On 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. 8There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were gathered together. 9And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, Eutychus was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor, and was picked up dead. 10But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for he is still alive.” 11When Paul had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. 12They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.