Welcome to Wednesday’s Podcast. Our reading today is Acts 9: 32-42 but today we’ll focus on verse 40
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.
A friend of mine grew up on the Isle of Man. He told me this story and I’ve never forgotten it.
He knew a Christian lady who had a great ministry baking cakes. She had remarkable timing. If ever she heard of someone having a difficult time – an illness; a bereavement or if someone just needed an encouragement she would bake a cake. They were great cakes too! It was a simple act done in great love that communicated a great kindness. She was a self-effacing lady who felt that it was something she could really offer.
The lady’s daughter was tragically killed in a car accident on the mainland. The small close-knit community of which the lady was part was shocked. The cakes stopped. Understandably. Time went by and one day – someone going through a tough time – found a cake on the doorstep. And then another. This time the impact was huge.
The reason I remember that story isn’t just because it’s so powerful but because it made such an impact on my friend. He struggled with faith so much. He was a natural cynic. A questioner. But the fact that a grieving mother was moved to show such kindness to others communicated to him – like a signpost – something of the very heart of God.
Mother Theresa once said “We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
If you’re like me – then you may be prone to comparison with other people. I find it so tempting to look at other people and think they’re making a bigger impact for God than I am. I look at missionaries or evangelists or even church planters and think they seem to make such a big impact. The truth is that we’re called to be a signpost – point to God in how we live our lives.
In today’s passage the apostle Peter is called to visit a disciple called Tabitha (Dorcas in the Greek) who has died. As Peter enters the room she is surrounded by a group of widows (v 39) who were standing around crying. Each of them holding garments Dorcas had made.
Why is this significant?
Dorcas made clothes – inner and outer garments – and gave them away to the poor. A signpost to God’s goodness. This is the way she served the church. The women who gathered to mourn her death – rather than be a drain on the early church in fact each played their part. They made clothing. Years and years before clothes were mass produced. It was a vital and powerful role they fulfilled. It’s easy to overlook them – they’re not like Saul or Peter – but they contribute to the growing church – they were signposts to God’s goodness.
Interestingly, both of the dramatic miracles Luke describes in these passages – Aeneas (Matthew 9:1-8) & Dorcas (Mark 5:38) are both very simliar miracles Peter has seen Jesus do. In fact Peter’s whole approach to the raising of Dorcas is almost the same as the raising of Jairus’ daughter. While healing is sometimes a mystery, Peter is doing what Jesus tells him to do: ‘heal the sick, raise the dead and preach the gospel.’ Healing, raising the dead and preaching – all signposts to God’s kingdom.
I don’t know why some people are healed and others are not. Accounts of people being raised from the dead in the Bible are rare – twice in the old testament; Jesus raised the dead 3 times; Paul once and Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. In pretty much each case it was a young person. Very occasionally God intervenes in this way.
The point is always not to become obsessive about the miraculous but to recognise that these always serve as a signpost – a pointer towards God’s kingdom.
We are called to point to Jesus – whether it be through dramatic ways or more often than not through the kindness of baking a cake or serving someone. Today, let our prayer be that in some simple way we can point towards Jesus.
Help us Lord to point to you today.
READING: Acts 9:32-42
As Peter travelled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralysed and had been bedridden for eight years. ‘Aeneas,’ Peter said to him, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became ill and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, ‘Please come at once!’
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood round him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.