By Collin Ross
My sixteen month old son has begun imitating me, and I couldn’t be happier. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but I could care less about that. What most intrigues me is the fact that the time that I spend with my son has the power to transform the way that he behaves.
I’ve seen the same effect in myself. After almost ten years of marriage, I can confidently say that the time that I have spent with my wife has changed how I live. After a number of years of working under a beloved supervisor, the way that I work has changed because of our time together. This transformational power is latent in every relationship.
We see the power of relationships on full display in today’s text. Having spent a significant amount of time with Jesus, Peter’s actions are aligning with Christ’s. Peter is doing what he saw Jesus do, albeit with an important difference.
The details that Luke chose to include in Acts mirror the record of Christ’s miracle in Mark. Upon arrival at the house, both Jesus and Peter were beset by mourners (Mark 5:39; Acts 9:39). Following his rabbi’s example, Peter also sent everyone out of the room (Mark 5:40; Acts 9:40). Clearly Peter is approaching the situation as he saw Jesus do.
But we can’t miss the important difference in the two stories. While Peter follows the example of Jesus, he does not raise Tabitha to life by his own power. Tabitha is raised by the power of Jesus. Peter knew that he couldn’t overcome death and disease by his own authority, and so he does not even attempt it. Instead, before speaking a word, “He knelt down, [and] prayed” (Acts 9:40). Peter depended on the power of Jesus to bring new life to this cherished disciple.
We often complicate what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, but Peter helps simplify it for us. Being a disciple is following Christ’s example through Christ’s power. We are a disciple when we do what Jesus did, relying on His power working through us. And just as it happened for Peter, the foundation of discipleship is an active relationship with Jesus. The more time we spend with Christ in His Word, in prayer, or serving alongside His Church, the more our lives and habits will align with His. Our relationship with Jesus is latent with transformative power. And as Jesus made himself available to Peter, He makes Himself available to us.