Acts 9: 36-42 Peter Heals Tabitha
~ Joni Butler
Tabitha was indispensable to the Christian community at Joppa. When she died suddenly, the untimely loss of her life was too great a blow to let her go quietly. She supported other women from her own means, in particular, by making them clothes, but probably in other ways, too. Without her, they would be without their friend and advocate: a very precarious situation for a widow. They felt the great weight of injustice bearing down on them; her death was intolerable, inconceivable. How could someone who played such a crucial part in the lives of so many suddenly not be there? Death had robbed them all and had cut down a noble woman of faith in the midst of a fruitful life of service to others.
Imagine a life so intwined with the other lives around it that instead of slipping away quietly to be with Jesus when she died, her friends rallied to somehow save her, even though in the usual way of thinking, she was beyond saving. But to her devoted friends, the fact that she was already dead was an unacceptable reality. They knew Peter was a worker of miracles and was staying a short distance away in Lyyda. Though he had never raised anyone from the dead, he had spent 3 years with Christ and had healed many people. Moreover, Tabitha’s friends in Jopa knew that they had met before and that Peter was familiar with her ministry to the community. Perhaps he could be persuaded to come and pray for their friend. Deep in their hearts was a NO! This will NOT happen! This is NOT the end! Their faith rose up to meet their desperate circumstances as they sent out the messengers to Peter.
Comparisons with Lazarus, the second most famous person to rise again from the dead after Jesus himself, are unavoidable. In his case, Jesus was summoned before Lazarus had actually died, and his delayed arrival with the subsequent death of Lazarus, gave God an opening to perform an amazing miracle. It seems that in this case, since Tabitha was already dead when men were sent to fetch Peter, her friends genuinely thought that Peter could pray for her and raise her from the dead. This was an impossible thing in the minds of even the most devoted followers of Jesus just a couple of years before.
The desperation of Tabitha’s friends had brought them to the cutting edge of faith at that time and place in history. Jesus promised us in John 14:10 that if we believe on him, we will do even greater works than he did! He goes on the say twice that whatever we ask in his name, he will do to thereby bring glory to God through himself. Indeed, we have not because we ask not.
Tabitha’s friends defy the impossible for her. Like the friends of the lame man who tore a hole in the roof to bring their friend to Jesus—nothing was going to stop them! Faith finds a way though barriers. It never says, This isn’t worth it. This should make us reconsider our perception of reality. What we see as barriers aren’t necessarily what they seem. By faith, they are a door to miracles. It often takes the insight of a faithful friend to help us see it.