Mother’s Day 2022
- 4 May 2022
- Stuart Robinson
Being Mother’s Day I thought I might begin with what I consider to be a wonderful story of love and selflessness.
The second daughter of Queen Victoria was Princess Alice [and here we have a youthful picture of her]:
Princess Alice’s, son, Ernest, at the age of 4, was struck down by a highly infectious, then terminal disease known as ‘black diphtheria’.
[That’s him in happier days, seated front left]
The medical team caring for Earnest quarantined him and gave strict instructions for his mother, Princess Alice, to stay away.
Alice’s youngest infant child, Marie, had choked to death as a result of the diphtheria – so she knew the risks and the importance of isolation (and what we now refer to as social distancing)
However, it is reported that the princess overheard her precious son, Ernest (who himself was grieving the death of his little sister, Marie) whisper to the nurse, “why does my mother not kiss me anymore?”
His words melted the princess’s heart, it is said.
She ran to her son and smothered him with kisses. It was early December in the year, 1878.
Within a few days Alice was dead: December 14, 1878.
Mother and son were both buried that month as a result of the deadly infection.
A demonstration of love cost that mother, Alice, her all.
This is my point: A demonstration of love cost Jesus his all; he is described in John 10 as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep; his death prevents their perishing (John 10:11; 28); and no one or no thing can snatch Jesus’ disciples from his grasp (John 10:29)
Now Dorcas or Tabitha (from Acts 9:36) is one such disciple of Jesus.
[Here’s how one of the ‘Old Master’s represented her]
Tabitha is woman who has heard Jesus’ call to follow (as per John 10) – and has placed her life in his hands – from which he (Jesus) promises she will never be snatched (in John 10).
Indeed, Tabitha placing her life in Jesus’ hands is the first of five remarkable, if not miraculous, events recorded in six short verses of the reading, Acts 9:36-43.
So, miraculous event #1:
Tabitha is converted.
She places her life in Jesus’ hands.
Tabitha appears to have been a successful and highly skilled businesswoman who has become a disciple of Jesus.
Indeed, she is the first person in the NT to be described as a ‘female disciple’ (Acts 9:36).
It means that she had embraced the gospel; that she’d repented of her sin, and had turned from self-rule to Christ’s rule.
Jesus’ priorities are now Tabitha’s priorities.
Christlikeness is her principal concern.
And that brings us to miraculous event #2:
A transformed life.
Here is a question: If you could have 10 words inscribed on yourtombstone what would they say?
Tabitha’s life is celebrated, time immemorial, with these ten words (in English), ‘she was devoted to good works and acts of charity’ (Acts 9:36).
Yes, as a follower of Jesus, Tabitha was committed to the welfare and wellbeing of others.
She used her resources to address the needs of people in her community.
Tabitha was selfless; ‘other-person’ centred.
She sought opportunities to serve, and she readily embraced them when they presented.
Whilst we know nothing of her relational status, we do know that Tabitha is (not surprisingly) loved by her community.
Then, tragically, after an illness, Tabitha dies.
No backstory given.
All we are told is that her grieving friends take her lifeless body, lovingly and carefully wash it, lay her out in the upstairs room (as was the custom) AND they seek God’s intervention.
This is miraculous event #3.
Tabitha is restored to life!
Tabitha’s faith-filled sisters and brothers in Christ send a messenger to Jesus’ friend Peter (who is about 30 kilometres away) to convince him to leave the place where he’s currently preaching and teaching where a revival is taking place; Acts 9:35 says that all the people in Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord.
And when arrives, he takes immediate action: Peter clears the room, gets down on his knees and he prays.
He brings this impossible situation to the One who has authority over life and death.
Peter gets down on his knees and petitions his Heavenly father.
Peter then turned from prayer to the lifeless corpse and said, ‘Tabitha, get up” – verse 40.
Immediately death gives way to life.
Tabitha opens her eyes and Peter calls in her friends – especially the grieving widows who’d shown him the garments she’d so skilfully crafted – as a witness to this great miracle.
Two more to go!
Others are saved!
Having seen the power of God in action, having seen prayers answered and lives transformed, the text reports, ‘that many people believed in the Lord’ (Acts 9:42).
That’s the power of personal testimony, right?
An encounter with the living God that results in transformation and new life, is immensely attractive.
Last – and you might miss it because it looks like an aside, but it is the reason we are here this very day, the Bible says Peter stayed with a tanner named Simon.
So here’s miracle #5.
Salvation is for all!
It was in Tabitha’s home town of Joppa (in Simon the tanner’s house) that Peter experienced a remarkable vision from God that helped him understand that the good news of Jesus is for all people – even Gentiles (us) and as a result of his subsequent preaching to non-Jews,
the Holy Spirit was poured out in great power (Acts 10:45).
This Mother’s Day – that same Spirit of transformation and renewal is available to all who, like Tabitha, place their lives into the hands of the risen Jesus – and that is because:
*Jesus is the One who answers prayer (in ways that best advance his purposes)
*Jesus is the One who brings wholeness and blessing to his people through his people
*Jesus is the One who bears witness to himself through ourwords, and works, and testimony.
*Jesus is the One who having passed though the tribulations and vagaries of this life, prepares the way, for all whom the Father had given him; those whom he tenaciously and lovingly grips and guides.
Happy Mother’s Day.