A Lady Too Wonderful to Lose
Sermon Outline - 592010
1. Illustration: Statistics from Pew Research on mothers
2. Tension: Christianity not favorable to women / religion not favorable
a. Judaism exclusive by circumcision and various laws
b. Islam exclusive (primary role for women is wife/mother; man takes on leadership; expected to marry a man)
c. Christianity has long been seen as patriarchal
i. Catholic church and no women priests
ii. Many protestant churches say no women pastors
iii. Methodists have women pastors but are paid less, have smaller churches
3. Resolution: Paul affirms women; Jesus affirms women
a. Mary and Martha
b. Junia (Romans 16:7)
4. Tabitha was called a ‘gazelle’ – connotes beauty – but Paul is talking about beauty from works, not physical beauty
a. The reference is to the dorcus gazelle, an animal about two feet high at the shoulders, and a marvel of lightness, beauty, and grace. The gentle beauty of its eyes was proverbial. The attractiveness of the gazelle invited petting and affectionate touching. One of the most common associations with the gazelle was that it was a delicacy served at Solomon’s table (1 Kings 4:23). They are delicious to eat. As gazelles were warm and affectionate, so was the beloved as a sexual partner.
b. Joppa: also means beautiful
c. Tabitha is the only female disciple in the NT
d. She was “devoted to good works” – not devoted like she worshipped good works, but “full of good works”
5. Illustration: CNN Hero
Extended Outline: A Lady Too Wonderful to Lose
Intro: Many feminists today blame Christianity for the plight of women in the world. They point to Biblical passage that seem to limit women in leadership roles and consider it evidence of Christianity's culpability in holding down women. This is historical revisionism. No other religious system in history has elevated women in society like Christianity has. Consider the plight of women in the eastern religions, in Judaism, and Islam, the worst of all.
Paul praised women in his ministry. Phoebe (Rom. 16:2) Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:3) Consider Jesus' relationships with women. Respect...equality. It was women who ministered to Him during His life. Women stayed to watch the crucifixion...women came to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ, and by that were the first witnesses of the resurrection. Jesus recognized the worth of women, appreciated their efforts, and received their following.
Our passage today speaks of a great woman. A woman so great in her community that her fellow believers could not bear to lose her to death. From this passage we will see the importance of our Christian labors in life and in eternity. We are known by what we do. Whatever we are on the inside, will show up on the outside. Dorcas was a great Christian. We can be, too.
Note: For Mother's Day, stress the day-to-day duties and labors of a mother in the introduction.
I. The Sister's Devotion v. 36-37
1. Her Description
Both names, Dorcas and Tabitha, mean "female gazelle." This denotes her physical beauty. Today we compare woman's beauty to a flower, etc --not animals. (See Song of Solomon for examples) The point of this story is that, though possibly physically attractive, her deeds are what made her beautiful!
She lived in Joppa, which also means "beautiful."
"a certain disciple" mathetria (math-ay'-tree-ah) only time used in NT. Means a "female disciple. Evidently she was so committed to Christ that this description fit her better than "follower" or "servant."
2. Her Deeds
"full of good works" thoroughly permeated, covered in every part
"almsdeeds" merciful pity, giving of oneself for the benefit of the less fortunate
Her deeds made her beautiful. Modern Christians do not make it a priority to do good deeds. We are concerned with correct theology and showing ourselves to live according to prescribed rules. We show off instead of giving of ourselves!
ILL: In the Civil War there was a Union nurse who labored among the wounded troops. Her face had been disfigured in a fire when she was younger. When asked why she volunteered to work among so much death and carnage, she replied, "The wounded soldiers don't notice my scars as much as others. To them, I'm beautiful."
3. Her Death
"...she was sick and died." The good works ceased. The charities... the labors....
"..they laid her in an upper chamber." upper chamber was place of prayer, supplication
. II. The Saints' Desire v. 38-39
1. Their Hope
They knew Peter was nearby. Maybe God would use him to restore her to them!
What faith! Where did they get this idea? Peter had raised others....
They were willing to go to any length to get her back. She was too wonderful to lose!
ILL: Some people fall in love.....never get over that love! Some people have great things to happen in life, then it's over. Never get over it. Alexander the Great wept because there were no more nations to conquer. Bill Clinton is said to brood because he is no longer in power as president. Some people can never get over past experiences in life. These people could not get over Dorcas. Can you imagine the effect that this woman had on her fellow believers?
2. Their Heartaches
"weeping" to mourn, to lament, to bewail
3. Their Heritage
"...shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them."
What a beautiful picture. They put her godly works on display! They were saying, "This was her! This shows you her love, her labors!"
III. The Servant's Difference v. 40-41
1. Peter's Example of Service
He requested privacy, (did not make a spectacle)
He engaged in prayer, (no labor is complete without prayer)
He presented Dorcas to the people. (the fruit of our labor is apparent to all)
2. Dorcas Example of Service
Her Opening "...opened her eyes..." (Have we opened to the possibilities of service?)
Her Obedience (She had always obeyed in life...now obeys even in death)Her Opportunity "...saw Peter...sat up..." looking to serve Peter "what would you have me to do? "There are those in every workplace, every church, every family,
who make a difference!
IV. The Sovereign's Design v. 42-43
"And it was known throughout all Joppa..." God's work publicizes itself! No need for modern means, worldly means. If God shows up, people will hear about it!
"...and many believed in the Lord." Good deeds lead to others being saved!
"...he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner." This is the place that Peter had the vision about opening the gospel to the Gentiles. Good works are an ever expanding wave
Conclusion: Dorcas was a a river of good deeds, a fountain of blessings. No good deed goes unrewarded! May be unrecognized by some on earth, but God sees. Everyone saw Dorcas' good works. She was honored by her fellow believers on earth, and by God Himself by raising her from the dead. God says he will reward as little as "a cup of cold water." Let us focus more on being like Dorcas, doing good works for the sake of the gospel and in Christ's name.