At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated, Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. (Acts 9:36-38)
The Incredible Faith Of The Joppa Church
Following the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the early church enjoyed a period of peace and tranquility as the number of disciples was multiplied and the work of preaching the good news of Christ was spread throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The apostle Peter went through all parts of the country preaching and showing the power of God through miracles. Arriving at Lydda, Peter healed Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. Many turned to the Lord as evidence of the power of God was affirmed by the working of the Holy Spirit. About ten miles away in the town of Joppa, a group of saints was quietly doing the work of the Lord with benevolent hearts and sincere spirits in the New Testament pattern of the kingdom of Christ. One of their members was a woman named Dorcas who used her talents as a seamstress to make tunics and garments for those in need. She was not one who made a big splash on the canvas of church work like preaching, teaching or refuting the opponents of Christ but in her small, unobtrusive manner went about the work of doing what she could do to help others. The work of this saintly woman had a marked influence on many people. For unknown reasons she became ill and died. The church was heartbroken to lose such a wonderful disciple and mourned her passing. Then something remarkable happened among the flock at Joppa. They had heard the apostle Peter was a few miles away in Lydda and no doubt had heard how he healed Aeneas. A germ of hope rose in the hearts of the saints when the decision was made to send a messenger to Lydda and ask for the apostle to come to Joppa. What they would ask Peter to do was beyond impossible. Healing a man from eight-year bondage was a powerful testimony of God’s work and they would now ask Peter to go a step further: raise their dear sister from the dead. Two men were dispatched to Lydda seeking the apostle Peter to come to Joppa without delay.
Peter did not delay and came to the upper room where Dorcas had been placed. The breath of life had returned to God who gave it and when Peter came into the room, Dorcas was clearly dead. Many stood around their departed sister showing the tunics and garments she had made with tears flowing from grief. Putting all the people outside the room, the apostle knelt down and prayed to the Father to grant mercy on the life of this disciple who he called in the Hebrew, “Tabitha.” Turning to the body, Peter said, “Tabitha, arise” and she opened her eyes and sat up. God returned the spirit of life to the body of this godly saint and showed His glory to all those in Joppa and the surrounding country. How joyous for the church in Joppa to see again the sparkling eyes of their dear sister Dorcas as she was alive again. Many believed in the Lord because of the miracle of Peter raising Dorcas from the dead. But there was a greater miracle that took place before Peter arrived. The saints in Joppa believed that with God all things were possible including the hope of raising someone from the dead. There were many people that died during this time and Luke does not account for every miracle that was performed. What sets this story apart is not so much what happened to Dorcas but the cause of her life being restored. The church in Joppa was unified with a common cause of the power of God to do the impossible. Dorcas did not raise herself from the dead. Peter did not happen along through the town of Joppa and hears of Dorcas dying. The reason this saint of God was brought back to life was that the saints in the church at Joppa were filled with life and hope. They acted in great faith to bring a man to raise Dorcas from the dead.
The faith of the early church is an extraordinary example of what the church of Christ can do when united with a common purpose and a common goal. Nothing was too hard for the disciples in Joppa. They were filled with a caring heart that helped others. Dorcas was a wonderful example of someone doing all she could do in the manner that she could do her best for the Lord. Who is to know the untold tunics she crafted or the numerous garments she made for so many in the city of Joppa. “Made by Dorcas” was stamped on garments of those who lived in Joppa as she was known as a godly woman exemplifying the beauty of Christ in her life in her way. The people in Joppa knew who Dorcas was because of her faith. When she died she left a vacuum that grieved the souls of the saints because of her charity. Who was the first to suggest the saints send for Peter? Where did the idea come that such a great miracle could take place? Why would Peter travel ten or twelve miles to heal a woman he never met? What if someone in the crowd doubted and crushed the suggestion? The result would have been a great miracle would not have happened and many would not have believed in the Lord. There is much work for the church to do in this modern age and the spirit of the Joppa church needs to fill the hearts of God’s people. The church needs to carry out its work in sharing the gospel of Christ in example, deeds, actions, words, and efforts to teach the lost. Great faith is required to believe in the impossible. There are too many nay-sayers who will crush the hope of enthusiasm to do the impossible. What the church needs now are hearts that will meet the day with the same vigor and faith of the Joppa church and believe in the power of God to raise the dead. Not literally for those days are past but to raise dead hearts who need Jesus Christ and dying hearts in the church who no longer believe in the power of God to save the lost. Let’s all send to Lydda and ask Peter to come and show us the way to the greatest miracle of all: a lost soul saved in the blood of Jesus.