The King is dead. Long live the king,
is a proclamation used following the accession of a new monarch. It encapsulates the fact that the old Ruler is dead, but the ruling goes on. The new ruler and the new work are of the same value as the one that has passed.
Peter Brings Dorcas Back to Life
36 In Joppa there was a follower named Tabitha. Her Greek name was Dorcas, which means “deer.” She was always doing good things for people and had given much to the poor. 37 But she got sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Joppa wasn’t far from Lydda, and the followers heard that Peter was there. They sent two men to say to him, “Please come with us as quickly as you can!” 39 Right away, Peter went with them.
The men took Peter upstairs into the room. Many widows were there crying. They showed him the coats and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was still alive.
40 After Peter had sent everyone out of the room, he knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to the body of Dorcas and said, “Tabitha, get up!” The woman opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet.
Peter called in the widows and the other followers and showed them that Dorcas had been raised from death. 42 Everyone in Joppa heard what had happened, and many of them put their faith in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed on for a while in Joppa in the house of a man named Simon, who made leather.
This passage is, I think, what it is – and account of the life of the early church. The death of one of the dear, hard workers – then Peter praying for her and her coming back to life. I can’t find much commentary about the event, apart from this interesting snippet from Sowers & Reapers, a brilliant book edited b y John Parr and published by SPCK in 1994:
Luke reminds us of Peters importance in the miracles at (Lyda and) Joppa. Both episodes recall similar events in the life of Jesus. …Jesus also brought back to life a little girl, Jairus’ daughter, and in doing so used an expression virtually identical to Peter’s words in v40 (Luke 8:49-56). Peter then is walking in the steps of Jesus – and perhaps also of the Old Testament prophets, for Elijah also brought a dead person back to life (1 Kings 17:17-24) (p404)
So this passage is making clear that the new Christian church is following in the footsteps of not just Jesus, but the Old Testament prophets. The work is not done, it is still to continue – and this is an authentic outliving of God’s ways. Everything has changed – but nothing has changed…
God’s work continues today – and he calls us to be a part of it. What is God asking you and I to do to pass the baton of faith on? To keep living his ways, that others may see them?
you are alive,
your work goes on;
I pray that I may be part of it,
that I will know what to do,
in my place