Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Dorcas - two lives spent serving Christ
Yesterday we read our verses and were introduced to Dorcas. In the Hebrew, she was called Tabitha...she was a lovely woman. Looks like she was so important to the church in Joppa that when she died, God raised her back to life. She was known for serving God devotedly with her life and her talents -- now she would have a second life with which to serve!
When she became sick and died, her body was washed in preparation for her burial. Lydda was a town near Joppa, and when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men and urged him to come at once. Perhaps they wanted him to encourage the church in this difficult time; perhaps they thought he could conduct the burial of their friend. They took him upstairs and the women were crying; they showed him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
If Peter had not already known Dorcas, he would have known her then. They were putting Dorcas' life and work on display as they showed him the work of her hands and needle. They had been clothed in her compassion for them.
What comes next is an amazing incident in the life of the early church. Remember in Mark 5:41, when Jesus was told that a little girl had died? Jesus looked around at the commotion and grief and told everyone but three of the disciples to go outside. Peter, James, and John watched as Jesus took the little girl's hand and said, "Talitha koum!" (That means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!")
Peter sent all of the mourners out of the room, and got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward where the dead woman was lying, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes and saw Peter, and sat up. He took her hand and helped her up, and then presented her to the others alive.
When people read things like this today, some are skeptical. Does God really do miracles today? (Yes. Just sayin.) But no one is claiming to be able to raise a dead person to life, that I know of. This is amazing! But there are other times that it's happened in the Bible.
Elijah raised the son of the widow; Elisha raised the son of the Shunamite woman; a man was raised when his body touched Elisha's bones . . . Jesus raised three people from the dead and then rose on the third day, Himself, and others were resurrected with Him. Later on, in Acts, there is an instance of a man falling asleep during Paul's sermon -- he fell out of the window and Paul raised him from the dead and continued preaching until morning. (I guess we can assume that this time, the fellow stayed awake!)
Lastly, we see that here, through Peter, the power of Jesus Christ raised Dorcas from the dead.
I guess if she had been here in 2015, she would make the rounds of all the talk shows. Her face would be in a commercial saying that next she was going to Disney, I guess. Lots of hoopla.
But I kinda think that after she had rested and regained her strength, she went right back to her quiet service of God, ministering to others. Miracles spread the news of God's glory. See in verse 42:
This became known all over Joppa and many people believed in the
That's the biggest and best miracle! And it is probably what gave Dorcas the most peace and joy.
Many Christians excel in expressing servant-hood because God has given them special abilities. Perhaps they are quiet, kind people just like Dorcas; they notice needs that some others might not even see, and they find joy in meeting those needs. Whether we are making meals, sewing clothes, banging nails into lumber, or working in a food pantry, God can use us to point people to Christ. It was Francis of Assisi who is noted as saying, "At all times preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words."
It's one of the most important things that Christians can be known for -- that they care compassionately for people in their time of need. Perhaps that is why Dorcas was raised; perhaps there was no one else that could do the job as well as she. But God is calling each of us to get up. To be involved in acts of compassion. We are dead in our sins, and then we are raised to new life in order to serve, just like Dorcas.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?
Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and
daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and
well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the
same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Being a servant is an attitude and a way of life. Is there a food pantry near you that you can support with time or money? Can you join others in a prayer chain, or offer your shoulder for those in need, via your phone line? Can you sew for a women's clinic, and make clothes for the women and babies? Is there a home nearby for abused children that you can provide groceries or staples for, when your budget can handle it?
So many ways to serve our Lord! So many ways to show our compassion! Let's not let the fires of compassion die out.
We'll conclude our study of Dorcas tomorrow.