By the time we arrive at Joppa and the story of faithful Tabitha, the signs and wonders of Peter and the apostles are known widely. When Peter is in Jerusalem, people bring their sick into the streets just so his shadow might fall upon them and bring healing. (See Acts 5:15.) Peter and John lay hands on the believers in Samaria so that they receive the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 8:17.) Just prior to today’s passage, Peter heals a paralyzed man in the nearby city of Lydda.
There is good reason to believe that Peter could heal a sick Tabitha. But Tabitha has died. Logic dictates that the situation has reached a point beyond redemption. Yet, the disciples in Joppa have a conviction of things not yet seen. They imagine the possibility of something more. They imagine the impossible. So they send for Peter and ask him to come quickly.
The elements of this text echo aspects of the accounts of Jesus raising the widow of Nain’s son from the dead (see Luke 7:12-15) and resurrecting Jairus’s daughter (see Mark 5:22-24, 35-42). Both Jesus and Peter “put all the people outside.” The command of resurrection varies by a single letter in the original Aramaic—“Tabitha [Talitha] cum.” One difference is equally significant: Peter kneels down and prays before resurrecting Tabitha, for Peter knows none of this is about him or within his own power; he serves as a witness and vessel of God’s activity.
As Jesus tells his disciples, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt. 7:20). What seems impossible in your life today? Will you follow the disciples of Joppa in their conviction of things unseen? Will you practice resurrection faith—faith in resurrection of something seemingly unredeemable? Will you pray as Peter prayed?
Jesus, help me to imagine the impossible with the eyes of resurrection faith. Amen.
The imagery of sheep plays a prominent role in three of this week’s readings. Psalm 23 uses the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep as its guiding metaphor. The Lord is our shepherd and leads us to safe and fertile places. Even when we pass through a dark valley, the Lord is there protecting us with a shepherd’s weapon, a staff. In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who calls his sheep. Because they are his, they hear his voice. In Revelation, Jesus becomes the sheep—or more specifically, the Lamb that was slain on our behalf. Those who endure will praise the Lamb forever. Acts is different in that it focuses on a resurrection story, a manifestation of God’s power working through Peter.
Read Acts 9:36-43. How can you be a witness and a vessel for God’s activity?
Read Psalm 23. Reflect on the questions the author poses in Tuesday’s meditation. Allow God’s guidance and correction to be comforting.
Read Revelation 7:9-17. How does knowing Christ as both Lamb and Shepherd help you work to bring about things not yet seen?
Read John 10:22-30. How does your faith allow you to hold gently your convictions without needing to grasp tightly to certainties?
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