Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Text: Acts 9.36-end "Tabitha restored through Peter"
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Can you think of someone in your community who was much loved, and who seemed to have time for everybody, but whose departure has left a real gap?
A Window on the Text
‘I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven,’ says Luke (Acts 1.1) referring to the first part (his gospel) of his two-part record. Part two, the ‘Acts of the Apostles’, tells of what Jesus continued to do after ‘the ascension’, about the growth of the early church. Jesus had promised to be present with his disciples in a new way, and that with the power of the Holy Spirit they would be his witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1.5-8). The new Christian communities spread from Jerusalem throughout the countries of the Mediterranean ending, significantly, in Rome the capital of the Empire.
From here through to chapter 12, Luke focuses on three stories about the apostle Peter’s itinerant ministry in the region of Joppa and Lydda (today’s Jaffa). He is visiting newly established small communities, preaching and encouraging the Christians. What was done through Peter and Paul was a continuation of the ministry of Jesus, though the power of the Holy Spirit.
The story of Tabitha parallels the account of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8) at which Peter was present. Peter’s command is identical to that of Jesus, who said: ‘Talitha koum’ - Little girl get up (Luke 8.54). Peter says to the woman, ‘Tabitha koum’ - Tabitha get up (Acts 9.40).
Both miracles required the power of God to restore life, and both were a sign of the ‘salvation’ of Jesus. A step of trust and obedience was required by Peter to raise the woman. Both were witness to the power and compassion of Jesus: many turned and became believers - a fulfilment of the promise made by Jesus of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Responding as a community
- Do we ever see, or expect, such evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit to heal in our day?
- The original commission of Jesus was to preach, to teach and to heal: to what extent is ‘healing’ a part of the church’s ministry today? Is it ‘good news’?
- Who are the ‘Tabithas’ in your community? What do they have, that is so attractive?
Place a small table in the middle of the group and light a candle
Leader: The Lord is here.
Response: His Spirit is with us.
Read slowly Acts 1.5-8
Michael Ramsey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, said that prayer is ‘going into the presence of God with someone on your heart’. In this way bring into God’s presence those who are ill or in need in your community. Light a candle or tea light for each one.
Name the person and pray in silence.
Read Acts 1.5-8 again.
Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.