Have you ever seen a dead body? Maybe at a visitation or wake? It’s a strange experience, especially if you knew the person. In death they cease being the person you knew. Something is absent, and they look like a mannequin version of the person you loved. When life ends, the person is gone and what is left is but a shell.
Death is final. What’s the old joke? The two things you can count on in life are death and taxes. But try to imagine a scenario where death is not final, when it’s an intermission but not the end of the story. That’s hard to do, isn’t it?
Somehow, that’s what we see in Acts 9. After Peter visited Aeneas, who had been paralyzed for eight years, and healed him in the name of Jesus, Peter was summoned to a nearby town. A beloved saint named Tabitha had passed away. Her friends were stricken. She was the sweetest, gentlest, most generous woman they knew, and now she was gone forever.
You’d expect Peter to comfort them with hope for the future and reminders of the resurrection. He might sit with them and be a good pastor who listens and cares. But what he actually does is, well, unusual. Peter goes into the room where Tabitha’s shell of a body is laid out and prepared for burial, sends everyone away, and prays over her. She’s gone, Pete. What’s the point?
In that moment he must have thought back to the time he saw his Savior do the same thing in the room of a young girl who had died. He must have remembered that Jesus not only raised that girl with a word but that He also rose from the dead Himself. Peter must have realized that when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, it was for more than preaching and speaking in tongues. It was a spirit of power—the Spirit of Christ. Besides, hadn’t he just seen a man healed days before?
So Peter prayed with a certainty that death was not final.
Tabitha awoke. Her intermission ended and her story continued. She went from waxen to awakened, from absent to present.
You know what’s amazing about this story (aside from the woman rising from the dead)? The same Holy Spirit Peter depended on, who breathed life into a corpse, is with us today. All who follow Christ have the Holy Spirit.
No, we may never heal a paralytic or raise the dead, but the Spirit did raise the dead when He brought us from spiritual death to life. We have life because of the same miraculous power that brought a little girl and a woman back from the dead.
Written By Barnabas Piper