Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up. – Acts 9:40
Do you have the kind of faith that can raise the dead?
In Greek mythology, there is a bird called the Phoenix which is cyclically regenerated or reborn. It obtains new life as it rises from the ashes of its predecessor.
The Phoenix was adopted as a symbol in early Christianity. R. Seeger Van der Broek, a scholar, summarizes: “The Phoenix symbolized renewal, consecration, resurrection and life hereafter in the heavenly paradise.”
Resurrection is witnessed over and over in biblical stories. There’s the raising of Lazarus (John 11:43), Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:41-42), the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-16) and, of course, Jesus’ own resurrection (John 20:1-9).
Later, in biblical history, we see in the Acts of the Apostles, 9:32-43, two people rising from their ashes: Aeneas and Tabitha. Aeneas was paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Tabitha was a woman known for always doing good who suddenly became sick and died.
These two stories remind us that people other than Jesus are used in raising the dead. The raising of Tabitha shows Peter’s fiery trials developed in him a consecrated faith.
Christians with consecrated faith are Saints who profess a sincere belief in Christ and they are not all only pre-eminent Christians like Peter or Paul but also Christians like you and me.
Please be reminded that Peter went through some fiery trials. He tried to walk on water but sank. He tried to protect Jesus in the garden but was reprimanded for it. And he said he would never leave Jesus but after Christ’s arrest Peter denied knowing Him.
Those are some of the fiery trials that produced Peter’s consecrated faith. In many of the miracles, Christ chose to heal people whose diseases were incurable to show us how desperate the case against sin is in fallen mankind.
In the healing of Aeneas, Peter doesn’t pretend to heal by his own power. He makes it clear, saying, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you.
“Now get up and roll up your mat.” (Acts 9:34) It’s my belief that consecrated faith in Christ can raise the dead and it is the instrument Christ uses to make us whole. But it’s up to us to rise and use the power He’s given us.
When Peter arrived at Lydda after being summoned there from Joppa, Tabitha had died and the widows were crying and showing off her good works. Peter sent them all out of the room, got down on his knees prayed, saying, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter and sat up.
Scripture tells us Tabitha was a great doer; she wasn’t a talker. Many are full of “good words” but are empty of “good works.” This should remind us of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
While we depend on Christ for salvation, we should talk less and work more. Yes, words and actions both honor Christ but our actions are often of greater benefit to His people.
Like the Phoenix, our fiery trials in life consecrate our faith, renew others and trigger “resurrection power.” Consecrated faith has the power to raise the dead. Through the fiery trials of the Holy Spirit, we are consecrated and then dead souls are raised to a more spiritual life (Note: not a more religious life). As with Tabitha the first sign of new spiritual life is the opening of “the eyes of the mind.”
Christ uses every fiery trial, every loss and every sacrifice. Through them the dead are raised like the Phoenix from the ashes. Through such resurrection, Christ overrules needless events, painful lessons and harsh words for the good of those who trust in Him and for the glory of His name.
A consecrated faith can raise the dead.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org