A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 21 April 2013 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 23; Acts 9:36–43 and John
resurrection, may your Word inspire us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, lead
us God to experience life transformation. Amen.
biblical story about a dead person raised from death is familiar to us. The
most obvious and close to us is Jesus’ resurrection. This is the reason we celebrate
in Easter. Lazarus, the man Jesus loved was raised a few days after his death.
The power of resurrection in God and in Jesus who is the Son of God, is well
heard another story about another person raising a dead person to life. This
time, the person who has this power is Peter.
Peter, Jesus’ disciple who was
called to tender his sheep had done a miracle in Joppa, a woman called Tabitha
in Jewish, Dorcas in Greek was raised from the dead.
Tabitha, or Dorcas, both in
Hebrew and Greek means an animal like a small deer.
Dorcas was a woman with good
reputation and good deeds. People in the community respected her and mourned
insight I would like to share about this story is where did the miracle take
- The miracle took place in the
The 'upper room' has special significance in
the Christian story. An upper room was the scene of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, and it is
mentioned twice in this story about Dorcas in Joppa.
Upper Room is a space that is removed from
the noise and busyness of the ground-floor courtyard and public rooms. An Upper
Room is a relatively quiet place where contact with God might take place.
We need to
prepare a quiet space physically and mentally if we want to meet with God and
do something important.
While the Upper Room sounds like a special place, it is an ordinary
place in a house. Nothing special. The Upper Room is a special place only if
God is dwelling in there. The Upper Room could be regarded as a place where people
meet with God direct. The
upper room is a place where God’s people gather in the name of God and to do
good work. From this point of view, we may then realize miracles may happen
anywhere. It may happen at home, at school, at the office, on the street, when
people are praying and serving for God wholeheartedly.
insight I want to share about this story of raising the dead to life is
- Why did Peter ask all people to
stay outside and leave just him alone to stay with the body and pray to God?
In the ancient Middle
East, people had a special way of mourning. They showed their
grief by wailing, crying, and tearing the upper part of their woven garment.
The more noise, the more the dead person was loved. With this understanding of the Jewish ritual
of mourning a dead person, you can imagine the environment where Peter was in,
it would be very noisy. He may not be able to focus himself with all this
When we are doing something
important, we need to have a quiet place that enable us to focus our heart and
mind in God. If we are disturbed by the noise of other people, we better leave ourselves
alone and not to allow anything or anyone to side track our attention.
Sometimes in our life we allow different things to side track us. We may then
not be able to focus on our goal that we need and want to achieve. Peter’s
request for all people to stay outside so that he may focus his entire mind on God,
has reminded us to do the same in our life.
insight that I want share is
- The power of restoring life –
In our world
today, if someone has done a miracle as such – raising the dead, that person
would be very famous and he/she may even be regarded as God, with super power.
Peter was given power to do the miracle. However, the power given to him was
not for his personal fame and interest. The power of restoring life was not for
raising his status. More importantly, it was to bring glory to God and for the
sake of the community.
As said in the scripture: this
became known throughout Joppa, many believed in the Lord. Dorcas’s story
happened in the Roman World when Christianity was growing at full speed.
The purpose of miracles is to
witness God’s power.
would like to move on to the Gospel reading taken from John 10:22–30 that we heard this
gospel, we are told Jesus was not welcome by the Jews. Although he had done
many miracles by healing the sick and raising the dead that manifested the
power of God, the Jews did not believe in him. They even wanted to kill him.
While we find it fascinating to
have such a high power to raise the dead to life, the person who has this power
may not be welcome.
Peter, the Apostle who was given
a mission to build the church was put to death because of his faith in Christ.
resurrection power has a price to pay – we need to be prepared
Like Jesus, his disciples may be
rejected when they are doing good work for God. Sometime we may risk our lives
like Jesus who has antagonized the Jews who eventually wanted to stone him. But
don’t give up and never be afraid for Jesus Christ will protect us. Jesus is
the shepherd of his sheep.
Jesus said, “I know my sheep who
listen to my voice”. He will give eternal life to his sheep who will never
perish. Jesus will protect his sheep and never let anyone to snatch them out of
the Father’s hand.
Psalm 23, another reading taken
from the Old Testament today: the Lord is my shepherd is very comforting and
encouraging. In the midst of life crisis, God never leave his sheep, his
people, his children alone. God will protect them and be with them.
let us affirm in our lives, God is our Shepherd and God’s faithfulness will
never fail us.
human point of view, it
is hard to image how can a dead person be resurrected to life? It is against
nature. It is impossible. In many circumstances in our daily life, we think
many things are impossible. How can a person suffers from cancer be happy and
hopeful? How can the horrible bombing in the Boston Marathon bring peace to the
people affected? How can the dock workers’ fight for their labor rights against
the strong and powerful tycoon be a success? How can the hatred between enemies
be transformed to forgiving love? How can a broken relationship between a
mother and her daughter be restored? How can the mourning mother whose son
committed suicide has joy? These are all missions impossible!
The message for Peter’s
supernatural power to restore Dorcas’s life inspires us to think out of the
box. Peter, Jesus’ disciple was an ordinary person and he had even run away
when Jesus was in great trouble. But Jesus still called him and gave him great
power to do great things. When Peter was ready to take up the calling and
mission from Jesus, he fulfilled God’s plan and did great things to glorify God.
Although he had encountered trials and threats of death, he was protected as
Jesus Christ was his great shepherd.
Sister and brothers, do you
believe that this power of resurrection has been given to us today as well?
Do you believe that you can make
great difference to other people’s live?
How far do we focus our heart and
mind in God always, like Peter?
How far do we stay close to God
and work together with a community of faith in the upper room where God is
always there to give us peace and affirm our calling?
How far do we entrust in God’s
protection as He is our Shepherd we shall not want. As God’s people we are
never alone and hurt.
a myth or a reality? If we take resurrection an impossible miracle or a
mission, it is a mission impossible. But in God, mission impossible is possible. Amen!
God of life, you are source of
love and joy. Thank you for the new life and the new hope you give to us
through Jesus Christ. Jesus has given the resurrection power to his disciples
who follow his footstep with faith and commitment. Lead and bless us God to
keep our spiritual journey with you. Strengthen our heart and our faith to
remember that you are our shepherd. Empower us to live a life with hope and
courage, engage in your mission that will bring new life and new possibilities.
We pray in the name of Jesus
Christ, our redeemer and liberator. Amen.