God worked through Elijah to raise the widow’s son at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:19-22) and He used Elisha to raise the Shunammite’s son (2 Kings 4:32-35). Jesus raised the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-17), Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:37-43), and His friend Lazarus (John 11:38-44). God used Paul to raise Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12) and He used Peter to raise Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43).
If God can breathe life into nothing but a handful of dirt (Genesis 2:7), then it’s not surprising that God can make a cold and quiet heart beat again. But Abraham didn’t witness a death-to-life miracle. Neither did Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Isaiah, or Daniel. The Bible records these few occasions when life was restored. Today, let’s consider Tabitha.
Dr. Luke’s historical account begins with a bit of background information. “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha” (Acts 9:36).
Tabitha, a.k.a. Dorcas, lived in Joppa, a city located forty miles west of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean coast, a city adopted by Peter as his home base. “Peter stayed for some time in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner” (Acts 9:43).
… a quick comment about Peter’s host, Simon the “leather tanner.” According to the Old Testament law, anyone who touched the dead was considered unclean. That Peter lived in the home of such a man indicates that Peter was living according to the New Covenant, free from the pharisaical rules and restrictions. Peter wasn’t shackled and burdened by ceremonial law, but daily enjoying God’s grace!
From Joppa, Peter’s Gospel ministry was productive, even touching Cornelius and his family, a Roman military officer living thirty miles north in Caesarea. Following the Christian conversion of Saul, the church’s primary detractor, “the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers” (Acts 9:31).
When Tabitha, a “disciple” and faithful follower of Jesus, suddenly died, the church knew where they could find Peter. Immediately, they “sent two men to him who urged him, ‘Don’t delay in coming with us’ ” (Acts 9:38).
By the time Peter arrived at the home, Tabitha’s lifeless body had been washed, dressed in a lovely funeral gown, and was laid in repose. Her family and friends had all gathered, mourning and weeping, grieving their loss.
Obviously directed by the Holy Spirit, Peter emptied the room of the emotional mourners.
“He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up” (Acts 9:40). Imagine the gasps and the cheers as Peter “called the saints and widows and presented her alive” (Acts 9:41).
The next morning’s Mediterranean Gazette probably had a headline reading: “The Dead Live Again!” Certainly, God used this mighty miracle to further advance the Gospel. “This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42).
Hallelujah! God works in wonderous ways!