"Down the road a way in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, "Gazelle" in our language. She was well known for doing good and helping out. During the time Peter was in the area she became sick and died. Her friends prepared her body for burial and put her in a cool room."
"Some of the disciples heard that Peter was visiting in nearby Lydda and sent two men to ask if he would be so kind as to come over. Peter got right up and went with them. They took him into the room where Tabitha's body was laid out. Her old friends, most of them widows, were in the room mourning. They showed Peter pieces of clothing the Gazelle had made while she was with them. Peter put the widows all out of the room. He knelt and prayed. Then he spoke directly to the body. 'Tabitha, get up,'
"She opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up. He took her hand and helped her up. Then he called in all the believers and widows and presented her to them alive." Acts 9:36-41 (The Message).
Peter was at it again, but this time it was a little different. Healing had become a way of life for him but he had never raised anyone from the dead. I wonder how he felt as he made the short trip to Joppa with the two strangers. Was he rehearsing in his mind the times when he had seen Jesus raise the dead? Was he hearing the Master's commission before He left them? Was he planning his strategy or was he listening to the voice of the Spirit?
No doubt Peter's confidence in Jesus was strong because he had no reason to doubt either His power or His will to raise this woman to life again. Jesus had done it many times - even Lazarus whose body was already decaying in the tomb.
When he arrived at the house, he found the customary mourners in the room with the body, not hired professionals but old friends who were heartbroken over the death of their companion. She had been a true disciple of Jesus, showing her faith in Him by doing what she could to make the lives of her fellow believers better. They showed Peter the evidence of her love.
As an imitator of Jesus, Peter did what Jesus did when He was called to the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler, to heal his daughter. Jesus sent everyone out of the room except the child's parents and His three closest disciples. This was not a show for entertainment. This was a stand-off with death and Peter did not need any spectators, not even other believers, to distract him.
It was not his role to engage in battle with death. Jesus had done that on the cross and won. It was there that Satan's power over death was forever broken. Peter's role was to enforce that victory by standing on it in this situation. He knelt and prayed, signifying his submission to the Master, and then spoke to the dead woman, "calling those things which are not as though they were." Just as Jairus' daughter had done, Tabitha heard and responded and was restored to her friends alive.
There are some truths that we need to get hold of in this story. Tabitha had not died because of some sin in her life or because she did not have enough faith, which are the accusations often levelled at people who do not experience miracles. She was part of a fallen human race which is subject to sickness and death.
It was the Father's will to display His glory in her healing. Is it still the Father's will to heal? Yes! Does He still heal? Yes! Does He still raise people from the dead? Yes! Does He raise everyone from the dead? Not now, but He will when Jesus comes! Why does He not heal everyone? He will when Jesus comes! What He does now is only a foretaste of what is to come and must fit into the bigger picture.
"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people and He Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'" Revelation 21:3-4 (NIV).
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