Wednesday 17 May 2017

Bible Book:

“This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” (v. 42)

Acts 9:36-43 Wednesday 17 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm 6:1-9


After the dramatic account of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus, andperhaps the equally astonishing account of his welcome by Ananiasand the Christian community there, the focus of the Acts of theApostles returns to Peter for the next couple of chapters.

Peter was at this point travelling among the believers in Lydda,near to the Judean coast. After receiving with the other apostlesthe gift of the Spirit at Pentecost, he has been continuing tominister not just in Jesus' name but using his words and followinghis example, as when in Lydda he heals a man named Aeneas who hasbeen paralysed and bedridden for eight years, with the words "JesusChrist heals you; get up and make your bed!" (Acts9:32-35).

News of this reached nearby Joppa, where a prominent andmuch-loved member of the Christian community there, a woman namedTabitha had recently been taken ill and died. The disciples theresent for Peter to come over without delay, and when he arrived theytook him to the room upstairs where she had been laid out (verses38-39).

Peter sent everyone out of the room, knelt down to pray, andthen said to her "Tabitha, get up", whereupon she opened her eyes,and seeing Peter, sat up (verse 40). Peter took her by the hand,and called the household to show that Tabitha was indeed alive. Theword spread around the community, so that "many believed in theLord".

This simple telling of an extraordinary story has parallels withanother story found in the Gospels, particularly Jesus' healing ofJairus' daughter (Luke 8:40-56). There are numerous similaritiesin the account of what happened, from the way messengers are sentto ask for help, to the crowds weeping when Jesus and Peter arriveand whom they promptly put outside, to the words used to bring themback to life, "Child/Tabitha, get up".

It seems that this story is told in such a way as to reinforcethe sense that Peter was not just proclaiming the good news aboutJesus, but acting with the power and authority of Jesus, and withthe same result that those who heard the news come to believe. It'snoteworthy that women have such a prominent role in these earlyChristian communities, since Tabitha was known to be "devoted togood works and acts of charity" (v. 36). Finally, it's interestingthat Peter goes on to stay at the house of Simon, a tanner (verse43) - but the significance of this we will pick up when we turnnext to Peter's encounter with Cornelius, a Roman centurion.

To Ponder

  • How much attention for you pay to themes of healing andwholeness in Church today?
  • How is that best expressed? Through prayers and healingservices, or in support of those who exercise their vocation asdoctors, nurses or social workers? Or perhaps you have othersuggestions?
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