Wake up, Tabitha! Meaningful Miracles, Service and Purpose
Miracles are always exciting to learn about. (The name Dorcas is always gets kids attention too). In this kids Bible lesson from the Early Church, the emphasis is on how all things, good or bad, serve to bring glory back to God.
How remarkable to know that God works wonders we can only imagine and does things that defy earthly nature.
After all, God made all things on and above Earth, so it only makes sense that He can bend the rules! Beyond that, though, sometimes talking about supernatural events can be tricky, because we recognize that they don’t always happen. Sometimes people still hurt, or get sick and die.
In this lesson, the emphasis is on how all things, good or bad, serve to bring glory back to God. We want to love and serve Him, and often that works to our benefit. But it’s still hard! Yet we know that God loves us and we can love Him and the people He has created.
Lesson focus: Sometimes God does big and amazing things to get our attention, and sometimes our actions draw attention back to Him. Whatever the case, all things serve to glorify God.
Passage: Acts 9:36-42
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Paper bags, google eyes, crayons, decorative materials
Optional (included in PDF download)
Introduction Game “Heads up, Seven Up”
If you have never played this rainy-day classroom classic, here’s the basic description: select a handful of students. This number can range from 2-7, depending on the size of the whole group (the bigger the group, the more kids you need to choose).
Have the rest of the students put their heads down, either on a table or bent on a rug, depending on your set-up. A leader can say “heads down, thumbs up!” Students with heads down will put a thumb or a hand up in the air. The pre-designated kids walk around and choose one person each with heads down. The “pickers” will tap the thumb or hand of the chosen person, but discretely.
Once all have been picked, all pickers go to the front of the room, and the leader can call “Heads up, seven up!” Any kids who had thumbs tap will stand up in their spots, and try to guess who tapped their thumb. If they guess correctly, they can trade places with the picker. If the guess is incorrect, they will sit back down.
Play a few rounds of this, and then arrange children in a comfortable seated arrangement to prepare for the Bible story.
in today’s story, someone hopped up and returned to life, even after being
dead! Amazing as that was, though, there was a special reason for it. This
woman came back to life in order to help others believe in God. No matter what
we do, we want our lives to point back to Him.
Bible Lesson “Tabitha Raised to Life”
Feel free to communicate this story through puppets, illustrations, readings, or live skits. Set the stage by describing to students when this story took place. In the early days of the church, disciples were doing all sorts of exciting and incredible things to promote the faith. This story involves Peter. Remember him, with the denial and the fish breakfast? He plays an important role here. The first verses in this text describe for us a woman named Tabitha (or Dorcas, which sounds like a funny sort of name)….The Bible tells us a little about her:
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. -Acts 9:36-37
Ask students what they notice here. What do we learn about Tabitha? She did lots of good things and charitable acts. What are some good things or service acts that we can do in this day and age? (Helping to clean up a park, donating to a worthy cause, being kind, holding a door for someone…)
Well, this lady had done a lot of those things. But she had gotten sick and died. So everyone washed her up and put her in bed, probably to wait for burial. Peter was nearby, and some of his friends went to fetch him…
Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics[e] and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, 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. -Acts 9:38-40
Whoa! So Peter came to the room, maybe to fellowship with the mourners, or perhaps God nudged him in the right direction and he knew what was going to happen. Either way, he prayed, and when he called to Tabitha, she got up! Just like that! Imagine the surprise of those around, who were sorrowfully wailing about Tabitha and her life lost, only to look and see her alive again. She had certainly been dead—she was already washed and stretched out to view and then bury. But she sat right up at Peter’s voice.
What do you consider to be a miracle? Most people define a miracle as something that is contrary to the usual or expected ways of nature. In that case, coming back from the dead is most definitely fitting! But it was not just a fun show…there was reason for this event.
And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. -Acts 9:41-42
Did you catch it? What was the big significance? Look at that last part of the verse… “many believed in the Lord.”
Tabitha loved, helped, and served others through her works. She meant a lot to people. Peter meant a lot to people. God worked through both of them. Most of all, God chose to bring her back to life, not so that she could sew more garments for people, but so others could see how marvelous and amazing God is.
When we serve people, we want to make sure it is for the right reason. We shouldn’t anticipate miracles, though it never hurts to pray for them. But we want to do good and charitable things to bring honor back to God. Remind people how and why we love them. Do positive things that no one will even find out about! Make sure someone else gets the credit. These are methods to make certain we are not acting in our own strength or confidence. Most importantly, we can pray that God will be glorified and sought after, every step of the way. What are we waiting for?
Craft “Wake Up Tabitha” Puppet
Have the children decorate paper bags, coloring and/or placing fabric “clothes” and yarn “hair”, if desired. On the flap of the bag, place or draw something to indicate closed eyes. When the flap is lifted, glue the googly eyes so it looks as though the puppet is “waking.”
Attach the verse Acts 9:42: This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.
Close with prayer and thanks to God for all of His amazing wonders. Ask for His help in doing the right things for the right reason, and bringing glory to Him through our service.
More Help Teaching Acts 9:36-42
- Lesson: Peter Heals Aeneas and Raises Tabitha
- Lesson: Peter Raises Dorcas
- Dorcas is Raised from the Dead (offsite link) from Mission Bible Class
- The Bible Story of Dorcas (offsite link) even has it’s own Wikipedia page.