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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Easter 4 "Raising the Dead"

Now in Joppa, there was a woman disciple named Tabitha. She did good works and gave alms. (Alms, or "works of mercy", were considered redemptive in the Jewish faith and early Christian church. see below) So Tabitha was faith filled and faithful. She was also dead; a tragedy for the poorest of the poor, the widows and a loss to the church. Peter was summoned, so he went to the city. He came in, he prayed and then he said, “Tabitha, get up.”She did!

How did it happen?
*Peter had seen Jesus do the same thing on several occasions. So he truly believed it was possible.
*Peter believed Jesus had given him power and authority to perform signs and wonders in witness to the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "If you love me....Care for the sheep.” So Peter is obedient. He is shepherding the church.
*The Kingdom is central. The miracles produce faith. They bring people to the Father. God’s will is health and salvation for all people. Peter believes this and prayed. I do not know what he prayed but I know he was aligned with the Father’s will. He wanted what the Father wants: yeshua (YHWH rescues). 
*So he prayed in faith, said with authority "get up" and it happened.

But why was Tabitha raised when so many die and are not?
I think the alms play a part. Acts 10:4 says that an angel told Cornelius "your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God." God is merciful. Alms are acts of mercy. Mercy is godliness; it is to love, to feed and to care for others. God likes when people give alms.The poor widows needed Tabitha and cried out. God hears the cry of the poor. Peter prayed. They all believed. Their hearts were aligned with God's heart. All this loving faith and trusting love opened a window for God to reach in and snatch Tabitha from death.
God's desire is health and salvation--holy, abundantly life. Hear Revelation 7: no more pain or sorrow or tears, only joyful worship and praise. Someday Death and Sin will be banished; Life and Love will reign. But until then, we have the mission, power and authority to free sinners from sin, the sick from illness and the dead from death. Most often figuratively but sometimes literally--we are told to raise the dead.

God’s desire is always the same. He is always available.
If we do not have the same results as Peter, it is not because of God. 

Do we want what Peter wants?
Do we trust as Peter trusts?
Are we aligned with God as Peter was?
Do we truly desire signs and wonders for God's glory and to bring others to faith?
We have the same spirit in us that was in Peter---the Spirit of God.
We have the same mission as Peter and the same resources.

God can reconcile sinners through us!
God can heal the sick through us!
God can feed the hungry through us!
God can set people free from demons through us!
God can raise the dead through us.

And if that sounds impossible then let me remind you, the lack of faith is sufficient to prevent it. And, FYI, someone in this parish has raised the dead.

For those interested in further study see "Redeem Your Sins By the Giving of Alms: Sin, Debt, and the "Treasury of Merit" in Early Jewish and Christian Tradition" Gary A. Anderson in Letter and Spirit 3 (2007):39-69

Found at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology in Steubenville.


  1. Thank you for tour insightful and inspiring words.

    1. thank you for taking time to comment.