Eutychus might have answered, “Because the sermons are too long.” But really though, why did Eutychus fall..? Why did this incident in the life of Eutychus make the pages of the Bible..? Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, you might remember if I introduced him as the man who fell asleep during a sermon and fell down to his death. The account of that fatal fall is found in Acts 20:7-12.
Some would say the message of this passage is a warning to those who fall asleep in Church. Others like my imagination of Eutychus may use this passage to ask the Pastor to check the length of their sermon. All depending on which side of the pulpit they find themselves, I guess.
There’s only a little information we can gather from this short passage. We do see that Eutychus ‘sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer’ and that Paul ‘prolonged his speech until midnight’. So perhaps Paul was in the fault here..? But look, there is a defence for Paul too. The reason he prolonged his sermon as such was because he ‘intended to depart on the next day’. Travelling in Paul’s day was surely a much slower affair than we have it in our time. And knowing how much Paul travelled from place to place there was a good chance he might not be able to see these people ever again. You couldn’t really blame him for wanting to make the most of the time he had with those who were so dear to him.
One thing I do notice in Eutychus though is something that I so often see in myself – a sense of carelessness..? Our poor friend didn’t just fall asleep, but he fell asleep while sitting on an open window all the way up.. in the third floor. I repeat – the third floor! Not the ideal place to be dozing away, is it..?
We are all prone to make them – those innocent mistakes that sometimes have a deep impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. At times these mistakes stem from well intentioned actions. Eutychus got on to that window eager to get an unhindered access to Paul’s sermon. Surely, you can’t fault him for that..?
Though all may seem gloomy yet, the end of this episode gives us enough reason to take heart. The passage doesn’t end with a fall that leads to death. Eutychus’ near and dear are not left to mourn – thinking of how different their lives would’ve been had Eutychus been more cautious in his actions. But what follows is an act that exhibits God’s ever present love and power – even over death. As Paul intervened, Eutychus’ life returned to his body. The people departed with hearts that were greatly comforted.
From personal experience, I can say that God – more often than not – in His mercy, guards us from falling like Eutychus, even when at times our actions push is to the edge of the ledge. But you may at some point – even today – find yourself in the midst of a needless mess; one that you could’ve easily avoided had you showed more care. You could be going through a whirlwind of emotions. There might be pain. There might be guilt. All would perhaps combine leaving you with nothing but loathing over yourself. Maybe you had nothing to do with the mess that has been caused, but you’re suffering because of the heedless actions of a close someone.
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
Whatever be the reason for you being in the dire straits that you’re in, just remember: the God who revived Eutychus and comforted those around him, is still the same today as He was then.