Acts 9:36 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. 37 At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
The reputation of Christ’s apostles was growing and people began to call upon them when they had need. This woman, Tabitha, was a good woman who devoted herself to helping others. She was gifted with her hands and used her talents and abilities to help those in need. Sadly, she seems to have died quiet suddenly and her small communities was very distraught. They heard that Peter was nearby so called for him to come. Immediately he came and discovered what an amazing woman she had been. The people wanted him to know everything that she had done for them. The widowed women, without financial support, were grateful for the beautiful things she had created for them. One can only imagine the joy of a simple beautiful piece of clothing when one has nothing.
Peter, knowing that they were all suffering, sent them outside and he remained alone with the body. He becomes quiet, kneels down and begins to pray. The rest of the scene unfolds as he speaks to her, telling her to get up. Amazingly her eyes open and seeing the apostle, she sits up. This miracle was one which was retold on numerous occasions and because of it, many believed in Jesus.
Let’s look at Peter a moment. Not only did he pray, seeking to know where God was leading but something transformative happened in that time and space. God’s plan is for us to be transformed into the image of Christ – for us to be reflections of Christ in this world. This is holiness – we are to be like our holy God, participating with God, as we live our lives in the world. It’s easy to slip right over the significance of Peter taking time to pray in the story but it is in that moment that we see him slip into participation with Christ. Not only is it participation, but in participation there is transformation.
What we see happening in the middle of the story is a change in focus. Tabitha, or Dorcas, was known for her good works. This was wonderful and her life was a testimony because of the good things she had done. However, Peter’s goal was not to do good works – his goal was to become like Christ. After praying, he turns to the body of Dorcas and uses her Aramaic name – Tabitha. If he spoke the entire sentence in Aramaic his words would have been only one letter different from the words that Jesus spoke when he raised the little girl from the dead, “Talitha cum.”…now Peter speaks, “Tabitha cum.” It’s in that moment that we look at Peter and we don't know if we’re seeing Peter, or if we are seeing Christ. We don’t know the difference…and this is the call of Christian life – one of holiness – which leads us out into mission.
The call of the Christian life is participation in Christ. We are to be partakers of the divine nature, being transformed by his holiness which will always lead us to mission.
Lord, may my simple prayer lead me to participation in you today. Amen.
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