Friday, March 30, 2012

GREATER WORKS

Cody F. Miller
DORCAS/TABITHA
John 14:12-14

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
13 And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.
Acts 9:36-42 Here is a group of people; the disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ; who are now a subculture living within the prevailing customs of Judaism or the Law of Moses. The Church of Christ,a test if you will.
When Jesus was taken from the cross, his body was washed, anointed and wrapped, and placed in a tomb according to Jewish customs, before sundown on the Sabbath. In the context of these verses, Jesus has risen, and has ascended to the Father. What are the disciples to do when one among them dies? Dorcas is the first named person to die within the community of the Apostles and Disciples of Christ.
• 36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.
• 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
• 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.
• 39 Then Peter rose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.
• 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
• 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
• 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.
Dorcas/Tabitha was a disciple, a woman in the church of Jesus Christ, noted for her good works and charitable deeds. She was a widow. Was she the “Elect Lady”, or the Relief Society President? She died, and it seems unexpectedly. The unnamed disciples, who were probably women who performed the burial rituals for this woman.
Ancient Burial practices
According to Jewish law, burial of the deceased had to occur within 24 hours of the individual’s death (Deuteronomy 21:23), because of climate factors, in order to maintain ritual purity.
Soon after death, family members of the deceased would mourn and prepare the body for burial. The deceased’s body was washed and anointed with various oils and spices. The body was then wrapped in unique linen clothing that contained spices and placed on a stone shelf that was carved into the bedrock wall of a the tomb.
After the body was prepared, it was carried to the cemetery in a procession of lamentation and grief. The body was to be buried soon after death and the burial was required to take place outside of the village where the individual lived, according to a Jewish law still in practice today (Baba Bathra 2, 9). The grieving period lasted from three to seven days.
One of the most important tenets of ancient Jewish burial practices was that the individual be buried just outside of the village in which the individual had lived. Copyright 2012© Jesusfamilytomb.com
The disciples sent for Peter, who was in Joppa, which was about 10 miles away. He had a 3 hour walk. After Peter arrived in Lydda, they took him to an “upper room”. The only significance I can find with this is that the room was probably cooler and would for a short time, inhibit decomposition. And also the body was away from the general population of people, and was an adherence to Jewish custom of not coming in contact with corpses. This is so significant not only to Peter, who is now the leader, but also to Dorcas/Tabitha, who in life was known for her good works and charity, but now, as a testament to her faith, which I assume was great, she was preparing to receive a gift; an extension of mortal life and maybe a glimpse beyond the veil. What more can strengthen a testimony of a servant of God, than this “proof of Life” eternal?
The record of Hezekiah, is recorded in 3 books of the Old Testament; Isaiah 38; 2 Kings 20; and in Chronicles. Here is a king whose heart was set for God in his obedience and faith and good works. He became sick almost unto death, and even the prophet Isaiah had pronounced him dead. Hezekiah prayed and asked God to “remember” him.
The Lord need him to continue the work he was charged. In this event, the bands of death had not yet been overthrown, but the future atonement was in place. And in effect God “threatened death”, by extending the life of Hezekiah by 15 years. God had a promise to keep and a bloodline to establish.
2 KINGS 20:1-5
1 In those days Hezekiah (a king of the house of David) was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’”
2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD,
3 and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before you in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 And the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying,
5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years
6 And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David
The significance was not that Dorcas died, or that Peter was the one who prayed for her so that she would awaken. The significance was the unshaken faith of this woman even in death. I am sure that this woman fought hard for her life, that she probably prayed a prayer similar to Hezekiah. She evidenced a belief in the words and works of Jesus Christ and she believed that his promises were true. So, she died, and like Jesus, she was washed, and anointed and wrapped for burial. Her friends and relatives had faith enough to call on Peter who held the Melchizedek Priesthood. This priesthood allowed him to converse with the Lord “face to face”. To call down the powers of heaven, to raise the dead to life. Awesome!!!
Doctrine and Covenants 107:18-19
18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—
19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus thefmediator of the new covenant.
In verse 40, there is such a human touch here, it says that when Peter called her name, she opened her eyes and when she saw Peter she sat up. What did she say? Was she praising God, and singing joyful songs? More than likely after a wonderful reunion with friends and family, she bore her testimony. What a powerful testimony it must have been.
What did she say? What would you say, “I know my Redeemer Lives”.
Acts:9:42
42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord
My testimony is this,that if we just wait on the Lord and endure until the end. He will renew our strength and we shall mount up as if on eagle's wings, and we shall run and not be weary. He renews our strength daily, he encourages us to continue to do good, to testify of His good works, and then do greater works in the name of Jesus Christ.
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