5 May 2015Acts 9:36-43
“Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.” (v. 36)
Psalm: Psalm 1
In this story we are told of a disciple called Tabitha or in the Greek Dorcas. This name in both the Aramaic and Greek form means"gazelle"which in Song of Solomon is a metaphor for the "beloved" (Songs 2:9).The comparison is fitting for this disciple who devoted her life to good works and acts of charity within her community. Tabitha lived in the sea port of Joppa situated about 12 miles from Lydda where Peter had healed a lame man (Acts 9:32-35).
We know little of Tabitha other than what we read here but we can see she continued the Jewish practice of caring for others in her community. One of the good works she did for these people was making clothes for them. As Peter arrives he is shown them by the gathered mourners to illustrate what she meant to this group (verse 39).
It is strange for the body of someone who has passed away not to be buried before sunset. It may be that this delay shows developing belief that those who die in the Lord would experience resurrection. The fact that they knew one of the Apostles was close by (verse 38) may indicate that they hoped his quick arrival would see this hope confirmed.
Peter, on arrival to the place where she lay, follows the example set by Jesus (Mark 5:35-43). He puts out the gathered mourners, prays, then utters similar words to that of Jesus, and Tabitha sits up. Peter leads her out to the joy of those gathered, and news of this miracle spreads around the region and many believe.
It maybe the miraculous raising of Tabitha that grabs our attention, but this story illustrates two vital forms of ministry. On the one hand Peter shows us the power of prayer and the miraculous. On the other Tabitha portrays generous hospitality and care for others.
- What kind of ministry do you find most often in the church?
- By leaving Tabitha in an upper room and calling for Peter showed the believers had faith she would be raised to life. What things do you believe God will do? And how are you expressing that faith in the things you do?