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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Dorcas—Acts 9:36-43

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DORCAS.


It is a common idea in the present day that every true Christian must be a preacher, and often the spirituality of a Christian is measured by how fast he or she can talk. Thank God, such an idea does not come from His Word. It is the life which the Word of God aims at. Where one passage calls for Christians to testify by word, thousands of passages in the Word of God direct how His children should live.

The Gospel had penetrated to Joppa, probably through those that were scattered abroad in the persecution which arose because of Stephen. (Act 8:4.) At Joppa lived a certain disciple, whose name was Dorcas. This woman was no preacher, but she had a kind heart, and God laid hold of it and made it divinely kind, so that the description given of her in the Word was that she "was full of good works and alms‐deeds which she did;"-so full that there was no room for self and self‐interest. There are some women whose faces just shine out love, which encourages those who are in real need, in depression, in poverty, in perplexity, to ask their help. There is a look of welcome, a something which says there is room in their hearts for the needs of others.

TRUE HELPS.

Such women generally have a ready hand to help; they can think of a number of things which can be made almost out of nothing, they can make out of food which others throw away nice little dainties for the sick; they can make out of garments which others have done with, quite natty and new things for the children of poor families; and these are such as live the true life of Christ, "not unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again." These are quite as much a well of living water to those around them as any preacher can be. These have a way of bringing God near to those who most need Him, and many a time, in their simple ministry those who are helped by them will ask them questions which may lead in the end to their conversion. Such a woman was Dorcas.

But she was taken sick and died. Everything was prepared for the funeral; the body was laid out just like every other corpse. But the disciples, under an impulse from the Spirit of God, sent to Peter, urging him to come to them without delay. Did the Spirit of God give them some intuitive sense that His power would conquer death? We are not told. We only know that "Peter arose and went with them;" and that they brought him into the chamber of death. There, around the corpse, were to be found more than the family; poor widows and needy ones were standing, weeping. They had lost a friend, and who could replace her? Every one of them had a testimony to the loving heart and ready hand which had toiled almost day and night, to help them. Coats, and garments, and soothed and strengthened hearts, were witnesses to the usefulness of her life.

Peter, who had learnt deep lessons since he denied his Lord, and since the Holy Ghost had taken possession of his penitent soul, knew how far he might go in prayer. He first discovered what was the will of his God, and then, "turning him to the body," said, with God‐given authority:

"Tabitha, arise."

It was a chamber, not of death, but of resurrection. The dead woman opened her eyes, sat up, took the proffered hand of Peter, and arose, having, like Lazarus, passed through death. The saints and the widows were called in, and "Peter presented her alive."

The story soon ran throughout Joppa, "and many believed in the Lord." Such a sign could not but bear its fruit; and yet, when others of the disciples died, neither Peter nor other of the disciples called them back again. How was this? In order to exercise such faith in God, these followers of Jesus must be quite of His mind. Elijah prayed, and the widow's son arose from the dead in answer to his prayer; but he did not therefore set up to be a man who habitually raised the dead. The lesson we have to learn is that such a life as that of Dorcas was precious to the Lord; He thought her worthy to be raised from the dead. The Lord values a self‐sacrificing and ministering woman whose life quietly but surely brings God and heaven into the lives and hearts of many around her.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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