Peter asked God to do the impossible. After praying, he told a dead woman to arise and she did (v.40). It was a bold and audacious request. It was a prayer prayed to the same God whom we worship today. The miracle rocked the community to its core and many more came to believe as a result of it (v.42). This was God’s unique will for Tabitha (or “Dorcas”), but this story is about more than the resurrection of one person. This story has impacted millions in the centuries that have transpired since it took place. You see, Tabitha was not made immortal by this miracle. Like Lazarus, she would one day physically die anyway. As in the story of Lazarus, we see a picture of the gospel and a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. We see a convicting testimony of bold prayer. This miracle was about more than Tabitha and the grief of her beloved friends. It is recorded Scripture to bless and challenge us. Name the last time you asked God to do something impossible. Do you believe He is able?
Did you notice the name of the town in verses 36, 42, and 43? If it seems familiar, then you must have studied the story of Jonah recently. It was onto the beach of Joppa that a repentant (and possibly a resurrected – depending on your interpretation) Jonah came ashore. God used this locale to bring His prophets and apostles to a state of correction. At Joppa beach, Jonah came back into God’s will centuries prior. In this passage, Peter was about to be corrected.
Peter historically had issues with taking pride in his superfluous adherence to Old Testament apodictic law. Though Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the Law, Peter could not let go of Old Testament dietary restrictions. He did not yet see that the same Holy Spirit who came down in fire upon the multinational crowd of Jewish believers at Pentecost would do the same through Gentile believers. He had, in his heart, pride leading to prejudice. This struggle in Peter’s heart was stubborn. In Galatians, written much later, Paul even describes the way he had to confront Peter for falling back into this condescending thinking – refusing to share meals whom he knew to be saved. So, this passage ends with God placing Peter in the most uncomfortable place imaginable; sharing both a roof and a name (Simon) with a tanner whose profession made him the man farthest from “ceremonially clean” of all the people of Joppa. Watch what God does with the tension He is setting in Peter’s life and be sensitive to what God may be doing through the tension in yours.
Are you uncomfortable with where God has you right now? Good. He is about to bring about change in your heart. Now, boldly pray accordingly.
Jesse Campbell is an author and Explore the Bible’s Brand Manager.