Tabitha is her Jewish name, Dorcus her Greek name. Why the two names? We see that often in scripture. Referencing her name in Greek shows that Christ not only came for the Jewish people, but for us Gentiles as well. He came for all.
Both Tabitha and Dorcus mean gazelle. A gazelle is a small antelope of Africa and Asia, they are noted for their graceful movements and lustrous eyes. When a herd of gazelle are on the move it is almost like watching a dance, beautiful. We will see that Tabitha was a seamstress, as she sewed, I am sure it was like watching a dance.
We will also see as we look at her account, she is called another name, disciple. It is the only time we see that name used in reference to an individual woman in the New Testament. This shows us that she is quite a woman.
Let’s go to Acts Chapter 9
36 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.
There it is a disciple named Tabitha. What is a disciple? A professed follower of Christ. This tells us that Tabitha was a woman who made it known that she was a Christ follower. People knew who her Lord was, there was no doubt.
When we first meet Tabitha, a disciple of Christ, it is a sad situation, she is already dead.
37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room
The women of her community would have prepared her body for burial. Her body would have been washed. Her hair and nails cut. They would have gently wiped her with a mixture of spices and wrapped her in linin strips. While this was happening, prayers from the scriptures where chanted.
They then placed her in an upper room of the house. The upper room is a special place, a place that is quite, set a part and the highest room in the house. The room believed to be the closest to the Lord.
The other disciples move into action…
38 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.
The women of the community are beside themselves in grief. We need Peter and he needs to hurry, women are crying, we have never heard this much crying. I wonder if they had an inkling of what they and Peter were capable of now that the Holy Spirit had come. They were about to find out what Holy Spirit, mighty rushing wind power was all about.
39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Let’s look at this picture. Peter is taken to the upper room. A room full of widow women crying, most likely wailing in grief, over the loss of a dear woman they all loved. Tabitha had clearly impacted their lives in a powerful way.
They then began to show Peter the tunics that Tabitha had made for them. I would wager that these tunics were not hand me downs, given to poor widow women. These were tunics by made Tabitha’s own hands with great care and precision. I am sure there were nights she was up late sewing. Mornings when her hands ached. She had a mission, she pressed on.
Her tunics that made these widow women feel beautiful, special and loved. I wonder, if just for a moment, Peter panicked and thought he just might have riot of crying women on his hands if he did not come up with something quickly.
Tabitha’s death had left a big, big hole in her community. So much so that her dear widow friends we beside themselves with grief and loss. A widow’s life is so very difficult, they are grieving, often times financially struggling and loneliness can overwhelm them. In these days they were totally dependent upon the kindness of others. Tabitha was truly a reflection of Jesus to these women. A true disciple.
40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
Peter sends everyone out, could he not take the crying anymore? Did he need some peace and quiet to get himself together? If he was like any other man I know, women crying had made him a bit uncomfortable.
In reality, he took a moment to seek the Lord in prayer. He went to his knees and the Lord was faithful to direct him. Was he surprised at the words that came from his lips…Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” A pretty bold request for anyone, even a disciple.
Then this… She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. Wow, what a moment!
41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.
Especially the widows…no one can get new out faster than a group of women. Oh the joy these ladies must have felt! Their dear friend was restored to life!
Tabitha glorified the Lord with her life. She glorified the Lord in her death. She glorified the Lord in her restored life. Every part of her life glorified the Lord.
That is all He asks of us. To take the gifts, talents and abilities He has placed uniquely within each of us and dance. This brings glory to the Lord and people believe. We must take our life and use it to minister to others, so that they feel beautiful, special and loved.
When people speak our names, will they say she is a disciple, a professed follower of Christ?
Will they say we saw Christ in her actions, we heard Christ when she spoke, we felt Christ through her love. Faith and works go hand in hand my friends.