ACTS 9:40-41


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. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.




This is a magnificent miracle the restoration from the dead. Here is a woman, Tabitha, known for her ministry of love and selflessness, and then this ministry was interrupted by death. In our passage today we see that by the hand of God and the power of Jesus Christ, Tabitha is restored to life, and she returns to a ministry of good works. We need to notice in this story and others that we will come to as we continue in Acts that the very works, yes even miraculous works that Jesus did, his followers now do. Could that be what Jesus meant in John when he said that his disciples would do "even greater things than he"?

When I read this account in Acts 9, I wonder if this Tabitha story is intended to be a picture, meant to teach us that this can happen to us too. I have witnessed in my own life, and in the lives of others that in reality something can interrupt the progress of a spiritual life which is beginning to grow, to blossom and exhibit fruit, to develop and be a comfort to others. Some circumstance, some event or experience, perhaps person, can interrupt and alter the direction of our spiritual life and cause it to die. Have you every said something like "I feel dead inside?" Spritual writers throughout history often describe seasons in their lives where they were like a wilted and dead plant, or a tree with no signs of growth. Jesus even pointed to a dead Fig tree as a symbol of spirtual life in Israel's Religious leaders. The outcome of such experiences is that individuals can lose that enthusiasm, earnestness, and eagerness spiritually and become cynical, resentful, and hard, indifferent and apathetic, bitter in spirit. Jesus talked about this furter in the gospel when he said that “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Mark 4:9) The Voice translation puts it, “the things of this life—the worries, the drive for more and more, the desire for other things—those things cluster around close and choke the life of God out of them until they cannot produce.” It is literally like something or someone is dead.

Our reading today reminds us that God, by the power of the Spirit can indeed speak life into such a person and resurrect and restore them to spiritual vitality and strength just as was witnessed in Tabitha's life.

Recently I was reading about the American poet Edwin Markham, who lived in this place of a bitter and death-like spirit for a long time. You see he knew a banker whom he trusted with the settlement of an estate. This banker betrayed him, and Edwin Markham lost all his money by the deceitful act. I suppose understandably, it made him extremely bitter and for several years reportedly he was unable to write poetry. On one occasion as he was trying to write, he was sitting at his desk without purpose, scrawling circles on a paper. As he doodled, making these circles, suddenly the “light of the Spirit” broke through and the thought struck him of the great circle of God's love, of how the circle of God’s love, takes us all in. He was struck with this inspiration and wrote these words:

I drew a circle and shut him out; Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in.

He forgave the swindler and was able to resume his life’s work as a poet. Many students of Markham’s work say that it was after this that he wrote some of his greatest poems. This is what Jesus Christ can do. He can heal a dead spirit, raise it to life and restore it joy and enthusiasm.


O Lord,

I pray for grace

To know what I ought to know,

To love what I ought to love,

To praise what delights You most,

To value what is precious in Your sight,

To hate what is offensive to You.

Don't let me judge by what my eyes see,

Or pass sentence on people because of ignorance.

But teach me to discern truly

between what is visible and what is spiritual.

Above all else,

Teach me to always seek your will,

Your good and perfect will.


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