Acts 9:36–10:8 (NKJV)
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.Acts 9:36-43
These two story vignettes describe two trips made by Peter the Apostle to respond to people in need. In this first story, Peter was called to the home of a faithful woman of God who was a worker and worshipper. She gave money and helped people constantly. She was talented and made beautiful items of clothing. She was highly respected and was very sick and eventually died. The disciples called for Peter and he went to visit. While he was there, he prayed for Tabitha, or Dorcas, to arise and live, and she did! What a wondrous miracle, brought about by simple faith in the power of God in prayer.
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”Acts 10:1-8
4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”
So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. 8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Peter was then called to Caesarea by Cornelius by what appears to be a Gentile, of the Italian Regiment of Caesar’s Roman army. The miraculous thing about this call is that God showed Cornelius in a vision that Peter was to come to him and help him understand what to do. Cornelius sent emissaries to Peter to request that he come to Cornelius. Another needy person has reached out to Peter for help. Peter responded, as will be seen in the next part of the story in the next blog.
What is the takeaway for us? Peter saw people in need and ministered to them. As the story continues to unfold, we will see that miracles took place in Peter’s ministry. Peter was an obedient servant. There was no shortage of people who were willing to believe, and there was no shortage of needy people in Peter’ world. Be willing to hear the voices of men and women as they cry out for help. Be willing to hear the voice of God as He instructs you to reach out to people in need. There are always needy people around, and you have what they need: Jesus!