A reflection on two of this week’s passages from the Revised Common Lectionary, Acts 9:36-43 and John 10:22-30.
In this week’s reading from the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me.”
Following Jesus is more than simply calling yourself a Christian. To follow Jesus with integrity involves discipline and intentionality. Daily—if not hourly—we are faced with choices about how to live our lives, how to relate with others, how to be faithful stewards of the world we have been given. We must ask ourselves: does my life actually bear much resemblance to Jesus?
The story of Peter in Acts 9 provides a fascinating literary illustration of following Jesus. A faithful woman named Tabitha has died. Peter comes to her side, prays for her, and says, “Tabitha, get up!” To the awe of her mourners, Tabitha rises from the dead. Not only has Tabitha followed Jesus in resurrection, Peter has followed Jesus’ example of praying for the dead to rise. “Tabitha, get up!” clearly recalls the story of Jesus raising a young girl from death with the words, “Talitha (“little girl” in Aramaic), get up!” (Mark 5:21-43, paralleled in Luke 8:40-56). In this story, then, Peter quite literally does what Jesus did.
What are we to make of this miraculous story? As you reflect on these passages with your youth this week, consider these questions:
- Do you think this story really happened, or is it a literary creation? Does this matter?
- Do followers of Jesus today have the potential to raise people from the dead like Peter did? (Some Christians believe that the miraculous deeds of the first Christians portrayed in Acts can and do still happen today.)
- If you prefer to read the story of Peter and Tabitha metaphorically, what is the underlying message?
- In what ways do you follow Jesus?
- In what ways do you fall short?
- What do you think are the most important ways that we should follow Jesus today?
- In John 14:12 Jesus says, “I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father.” In what ways do you think Jesus’ followers today have the potential to do even greater things than Jesus himself did while he walked the earth?
- In the story, Tabitha follows Jesus and experiences a literal resurrection. During this Easter season, in what ways are you experiencing resurrection?