As Peter traveled through the country proclaiming the Gospel and establishing churches he came to Lydda where he met a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had not been able to leave his bed for the past eight years. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Stand up and make your bed”, Peter said and immediately Aeneas stood up. All the people living in Lydda saw this healing and turned to the Lord.
Meanwhile, in the coastal city of Joppa which was about eleven miles northwest from Lydda , resided Tabitha (Dorcas in Greek) who was on her death bed. Tabitha Dorcus was a tailor and a follower of the ‘Way’. The origins of her faith are not mentioned in the Bible (unlike those mentioned in detail about Paul in the preceding verses of Acts 9), but what we know about her is that she was a kindhearted person who helped out her fellow people. She aided the poor by giving alms, clothes and probably shelter to the homeless.
Peter was spending time with the church elders in Lydda when Tabitha became sick and died soon after. Due to the proximity of Peter’s current location, the believers in Joppa wanted Peter to come and visit them. Maybe they wanted to honor the kindhearted saint by having Peter attend her funeral. They sent two believers to Lydda , to request Peter to come immediately.
On hearing about Tabitha’s sudden demise, Peter immediately went along with the two messengers to Joppa. After he had arrived in the city he was taken straight to Tabitha’s house where he was greeted by the mourning committee comprising of widows who were beneficiaries of the kindness of Tabitha. They showed Peter the garments Tabitha had made for them. I am not sure whether they were mourning the death of their friend or wondering who will provide them with alms and clothes now. The death of a prominent philanthropist is often mourned by the people who were beneficiaries of their charitable acts.
The scene became too familiar to Peter. Flashbacks of the time when Jesus reached Jarius’ home and found people mourning in a similar fashion would have come to his mind. There too people had gathered around the girl’s room and mourned in the same manner which made it seem like they had accepted her death. However their mourning turned into laughter when Jesus said that Jarius’ daughter was only sleeping. Such was the degree of their disbelief that Jesus’ remark made them stop weeping and laugh uncontrollably. Peter remembered what Jesus did next and promptly did the same. He emptied the room off the crying widows and fell to his knees and prayed fervently.
Then he turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, stand up.” She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called the saints and the widows into the room and showed them that Tabitha was alive. People everywhere in Joppa learned about this, and many believed in the Lord. – Acts 9:40-43
Peter prayed and with faith asked Tabitha to stand up. As soon as he said those words, Tabitha sat up, for she had been raised back to life by the Holy Spirit. Peter called in the multitudes waiting outside and showed them that Tabitha was dead no more.
Tabitha’s resurrection had a purpose and through her resurrection many residents of Joppa believed in Christ. To her immediate family and friends her rise from the dead gave them emotional and monetary benefits but to the onlookers who witnessed and others who heard about the supernatural act of resurrection, placed their faith on Christ and became part of the church in Joppa.