Tabitha, the Disciple of Christ
Did you know that the only woman in the Bible who was specifically called a disciple was Tabitha?
Not only was she called a disciple, but she was known for her compassion toward those in need. Her ministry reflected that compassion as she used her gifts to help the poor and needy.
How do we know Tabitha led a life of significance?
Tabitha (whose Greek name was Dorcas) lived in the town of Joppa:
Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did.
And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.Acts 9:36-39
Joppa was a was a coastal city near modern-day Tel-Aviv, Israel. It was in this busy city that Tabitha carried out her ministry to the populace.
Tabitha did many good works for her community. She had an eye for what needed to be done and did what she could to make improvements.
Tabitha also observed the plight of the poor and widowed. She could not meet all their needs but she was committed to do what she could. She decided to use the skills she had acquired to relieve a particular area of need.
Tabitha was an accomplished seamstress. Many were the customers who came to her door to obtain fashionable garments. She would use her skills to make suitable clothing for the impoverished.
Since Tabitha already had customers she strategized how she could provide this need to the poor without embarrassment or shame to the recipients. She began making beautiful clothing which included coats for colder weather. This was a godsend to the widows in her community.
However, Tabitha fell ill. Her sickness led to an untimely death. The community around her was shocked. Soon the whole community surrounded her house.
Ladies came in and carefully washed her body. However, instead of wrapping her body and preparing her for immediate burial as was custom, the disciples had her carried to the upper chamber of her house.
As the disciples continued to gather, they discovered that the apostle Peter was in the nearby town of Lydda (about 11 or 12 miles away). Two men were quickly chosen to travel to Lydda to fetch Peter.
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.Acts 9:39
Peter agreed to come to Joppa. Upon his arrival he was led to the upper chamber where Tabitha’s body had been carefully placed. During his journey he must have heard of all the wonderful works which this lady had done.
But as Peter entered the upper chamber he was bombarded by many widows who showed off beautiful clothes and coats which Tabitha had made them. Obviously this woman was a woman of significance.
But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.Acts 9:40-42
Memories flooded Peter’s mind as he recalled Elisha’s prayer in raising the Shunemite woman’s son (2 Kings 4) and Jesus’s prayer as he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Matthew 9).
Following their example Peter removed everyone from the upper chamber so that he was alone with Tabitha’s dead body. Peter kneeled down and began praying that Tabitha would be brought back to life.
Then Peter in absolute faith turned to the dead body and said, “Tabitha, arise.” Miraculously, Tabitha opened her eyes and saw Peter. She was probably surprised to see him there in her home.
Immediately, Peter extended his hand to her and lifted her up off the board where she was laid. Calling her friends to come into the room, Peter presented Tabitha alive and well. The joy and excitement of her friends was unimaginable.
Tabitha was now able to continue the great work that she had begun. Only now the fame of her works and her resurrection from death was spread throughout Joppa.
Tabitha’s ability to testify of the saving grace of Jesus was greatly multiplied. Because she led a life of significance many souls were won to Christ.
How do we know Tabitha led a life of significance?
We know because her life made a heavenly difference in the lives of those surrounding her.
Tabitha did what she could with what she had. She also used her talents as a tool to minister to others. Her deeds allowed her to speak to the spiritual needs of the lost and to win them to the Kingdom of Heaven.
She hath done what she could.Mark 14:8
Tabitha’s life was one of significance. Did she seek significance?
Being a disciple of Christ, should one seek significance for themselves?
Tabitha was a disciple (student of the Word). How does being a student of the Word result in good works?
What will you be remembered for upon your decease?