Summary: Peter brings a woman back to life in a manner that is reminiscent of Jesus' healing ministry. The followers of Jesus are called to continue Jesus' ministry--to heal and proclaim the good news of salvation.
Acts 9:36-43 “Carrying On the Ministry”
It is interesting to observe children (and some adults) at Christmas time when presents are opened. Even in this depressed economy, our gift giving in abundant. Children have the pleasure of opening several gifts—great toys, wonderful pieces of technology, and stylish clothes. They receive many things to make them happy and keep them occupied, and they are unless there is another child who is also receiving gifts. If there is another child and other gifts, invariably the other child’s gifts appear to be better than the one’s they have received. Ah, envy is a powerful force in our world and in our lives.
Children don’t grow out of their envy—at least not all of it. Adults exhibit various levels of envy, also. There is the infamous “keep up with the Jones” syndrome. There are also those times when we envy gifts and talents that people have. We wish we had the success of Bill Gates, the creativeness of Steve Jobs, the singing ability of Celine Dion, the stock market savvy of Warren Buffet, or the golf game of Phil Mickelson. Our envy can even overflow to our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.
I stand back singing during our worship services and I not only enjoy the music but I’m envious of the musical ability of those who are on the team. I wish I had the singing voice, or the ability to play the keyboard, guitar or drums that they have. As a writer, I have wanted to write best sellers, and I’m envious of success of authors like Rick Warren and Max Lucado and their skill at writing. -- Where does envy reveal itself in your life?
TWO STORIES IN ONE
Luke, who is the writer of Acts, gives us two stories in one in these verses. He gives us the story of Peter and the story of Dorcas. Luke weaves these two stories around the event of Dorcus’ illness and death.
In the scheme of Luke’s book, Peter’s ministry is mean to be highlighted. Peter has been transformed from a bumbling disciple to a strong leader in the church in Jerusalem. His ministry—at least that portrayed by Luke—is strikingly similar to that of Jesus. Luke does this to underscore the truth that the followers of Jesus Christ are called to continue the ministry of Jesus.
The reader also learns a great deal about the ministry of Dorcus, in just a few verses.
Peter has a wonderful ministry. Early in Acts Luke records that Peter and John were walking to the temple when they came across a lame man. The man wants money from them, but Peter says that they have something better to give him. Peter then commands the man to walk in the name of Jesus Christ. A few verses earlier we read that people would scramble to be touched by Peter’s shadow because of his ability to heal.
In our lesson today, Peter actions and words are almost identical with those of Jesus. The gospels record a time when Jesus was approached by the leader of a synagogue. (A person who usually would be one of Jesus’ enemies.) The man runs up to Jesus and begs Jesus to come to his house and heal his twelve year-old daughter. While going to the man’s house, servants approach the man and Jesus and tell them that the girl has died. Jesus comforts the man and tells him things will be okay. Jesus then goes up to the little girl, prays and then says, “Tallitha cum,” which means “Little girl arise.” The girl comes back to life and sits up.
Peter comes to the deathbed of a woman called Dorcus, or Tabitha. She is already dead, and she has been cleaned and prepared for burial. Peter sends the people away from the upper room where the body has been laid. He prays and then says the words, “Tabitha cum.” The woman comes back to life and sits up. This is a spectacular Jesus type miracle.
I’m sure that many of the people, who observed this event, not only rejoiced at Dorcus resuscitation but also envied Peter’s miraculous powers. Many of them thought to themselves, “Boy, I wish I could do that.”
Americans always seem to think that bigger is better and more is desirable. I am envious of a pastor who works out at Mountainside Fitness. He has this wonderful ability to befriend people and gently share his faith with them and invite them to a closer walk with Jesus. I also confess that I drive by Radiant and pray that the Lord would give Desert Streams 1/10 of the people and cars.
Perhaps you envy another persons friendliness, singing ability, freedom to give more time or ability to give more money. While looking at other’s gifts, you and I stop giving thanks for our own gifts and become envious of the gifts others have been given.