All the widows stood around [Peter], crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made. Acts 9:39
In the last few days of my dad’s life, one of the nurses dropped by his room and asked me if she could give him a shave. As Rachel gently pulled the razor across his face, she explained, “Older men of his generation like to have a neat shave every day.” Rachel had seen a need and acted on her instinct to show kindness, dignity, and respect to someone. The tender care she provided reminded me of my friend Julie who still paints her elderly mother’s nails because it’s important to her mom that she “look pretty.”
Acts 9 tells us about a disciple named Dorcas (also known as Tabitha) who showed kindness by providing handmade clothing for the poor (vv. 36, 39). When she died, her room was filled with friends who tearfully mourned this kind woman who loved helping others.
But Dorcas’ story didn’t end there. When Peter was brought to where her body lay, he knelt and prayed. In God’s power, he called her by name, saying, “Tabitha, get up” (v. 40). Amazingly, Dorcas opened her eyes and rose to her feet. When her friends realized she was alive, word spread quickly through the town and “many people believed in the Lord” (v. 42).
And how did Dorcas spend the next day of her life? Probably exactly as she had before—seeing the needs of people and filling them.
Whom do you know that always seems to find ways to help others? What can you do to become more aware of others’ needs?
Father, open my eyes each day to see the hurting and needy people around me. Open my heart to do what I can to show them what God’s love looks like.
The main event we usually focus on in Acts 9 is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. However, Peter’s time in Joppa is also highlighted (vv. 36–43). When he raised Dorcas from the dead (v. 40), he said, “Tabitha, get up.” This echoes Jesus’ Aramaic words to Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:41, “ ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).” This event sets the stage for the events in Acts 10, when Peter received a heavenly vision in anticipation of messengers from the Roman centurion Cornelius (vv. 9–16). This vision would prepare the way for the door of the gospel to be opened to the gentiles. So, Peter’s brief stay in Joppa was not only eventful but reached forward throughout the history of the church as people from every tribe, tongue, and nation were invited to respond to the gospel.