Peter and Tabitha
In Sunday’s Gospel (John 15:9-17), Jesus commands his disciples: “Love each other as I have loved you” (John ). Tabitha lived that kind of love; she “was always doing good and helping the poor.” She didn’t expect to be repaid for the clothing and other things she gave to the needy. Christian love moves a person to give, to help others out of genuine concern for them. The focus is on others and how to benefit them, not on self and what’s profitable for me.
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 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!" 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. (Acts 9:36-42)
That’s the way that Jesus loved the world—he saw the need that sinners had and in love stepped away from his heavenly glory to stoop and help them. He was completely selfless in his desire and actions to give himself to the poor…poor sinners. Tabitha was a believer in Jesus and loved her Savior. Moved by the Savior’s love that filled her heart, she demonstrated her faith in Jesus by acts of love toward others.
Tabitha was a good person, but she got sick and died. What’s the assessment that is so often heard when this kind of circumstance takes place? People wonder why God would let that happen to someone who was so good, who was such a benefit to others. It’s not our goodness that saves us from the consequences and curse of sin. No matter how much good a person does, the favor of God is theirs by the goodness, the righteousness of another—Jesus Christ.
The resurrected and ascended Jesus performed a miracle. He raised Tabitha from the dead. No doubt this helped to strengthen those early believers and created many opportunities for them to spread the gospel of salvation through him alone, so that “many people believed in the Lord.” That’s the important point of this account—Jesus is the resurrection and the life! He promises that those who trust him as their Savior will live even though they die. For Tabitha he granted a special favor to be brought back to life in the world, but eventually she died (again), and for her, just like for all believers, Jesus will raise them from the dead and give them life eternal in heaven.