Read the text here: Acts 9:32-43.
From the way that Saul is introduced into Acts, one might expect the story to continue to follow his work. Instead, we find a transition story highlighting the work of Peter outside of Jerusalem. We have two miracle stories here, following the common Lukan pattern of matching two stories with one male and one female character.
The first healing of the paralysed man, Aeneas, with Peter’s command to “Rise and make your bed,” may bring to mind the healing of another paralysed man by Jesus (Luke 5:17-26) during which Jesus tells the man to “Take up your bed and walk.”
The second healing again has echoes of previous healings, namely resuscitation healings by the great prophets Elijah and Elisha as well as by Jesus. This story is much more expanded than the first, with some intriguing details.
Tabitha is the only woman to be named as a disciple in the New Testament. In the gospels we have narrative portrayals of women as ideal disciples, yet they are never referred to as such. Tabitha is a disciple, and her distinct ministry is to the poor widows in the community. It seems that Tabitha uses her own resources to care for the widow’s needs. She is such an integral part of the community in Joppa that two male representatives are dispatched to plead for Peter’s help. Could she have been one of the founders of the community? Perhaps. It is because of the community’s insistence, Peter comes to Joppa and restores Tabitha to life.
These two resuscitation stories connect Peter to the great history of God’s saving work. Peter is like the prophets (Elijah and Elisha); he is a continuation of the ministry of Jesus. Where the Holy Spirit is, life comes from death; hope comes from despair; healing comes from brokenness.
How do we as a faith community “advocate” for the healing of one in our midst?
Peter is also venturing out from Jerusalem. He has been with Phillip in Samaria. Now he is on his own, visiting communities of believers outside the Holy City. The gospel has broken out and spread–what part will Peter play in this new phase?
Where is the gospel moving today?
How are we as followers of Christ participating in the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst?
Is the Spirit moving you in a direction outside of your comfort zone? How will you respond?