The Daughters of Dorcas
For Mother’s Day
Roy Blizzard © 2014
Based on Acts 9:32-43
Most of us have forgotten the story. It was while Peter was on one of his missionary journeys on the south coast of Israel that he came to the city of Joppa. While visiting the believers there he found that the people were in very great sadness, because one of their numbers had suddenly died. She was not a leader in the sense of the organization of the believers, but she was in terms of personal goodness, in sacrifice, and in services, because she had set herself especially to do good and kind deeds to others around her.
By the time Peter arrived, the poor people from the village were there mourning over her death. They were actually showing the clothes and things that she had sewn with her own hands. Peter, under the direction of the Holy Spirit raised her from the dead and restored her to them.
This is all we know about this incident. I suppose the most amazing thing about it is that a woman, so obscure as this, should be honored by God by being raised from the dead. The number of resurrection miracles in the New Testament is very small, and one wonders at first sight why it is that God should pay special attention to her.
Miracles in the New Testament do not follow any particular pattern. We read about one person being raised from the dead and another being cured from paralysis, etc, etc, but not all sick people were being cured. For instance, with regards to resurrection, many people, important people, were allowed to die, and were not raised.
Some time before, that great man of faith Stephen, had been martyred for his faith in God. You would have expected that he would have been a good candidate for resurrection because the believers needed people like him. James, the apostle, was killed by being beheaded by the sword, yet he was not raised. Yet this obscure lady, who was of no apparent importance at all in the organization of the believers, was chosen instead.
Now to understand this we have to get back to what the Lord explained, especially in the Gospel of John. He indicated that the main purpose of the Miracles in the New Testament was to Point the Finger at something. Again and again He said, “Let those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” In other words, we need that kind of spiritual insight to look at apparently ordinary happenings, or even extremely extraordinary happenings, and see what is behind them.
So we see that in every case of a miracle recorded in the New Testament, God has chosen to record that specific case, not by accident, but deliberately, to bring out an eternal truth. This is not to imply that every miracle is recorded in the text, but we need to try and understand why each one that is recorded has been chosen for us to understand. Therefore, in giving honor to this woman especially, He is laying an eternal emphasis upon this matter of sacrifice, service, kindness and goodness.
This is why I have chosen this passage for consideration on the day to honor our mothers. The reason we honor motherhood is because of the tremendous good that a mother is capable of. A great deal of good that is present in this world has come because of the kindness, sacrifices, training and influence of mothers. Whenever we think of mother, we think of an outreach of the personality and the self-sacrifice and love to others. We think of kind deeds without any hope of return.
Apparently God, in His goodness, felt that these qualities needed an emphasis in the Pentecost days after His resurrection. I think that we can understand why. The main emphasis after Jesus rose from the dead was the preaching of the Gospel of Salvation. The disciples were given this task to take the whole Gospel throughout all the world. Apparently God was concerned that in view of that central task, the most important of tasks, they might forget some of the lesser things and maybe even the so called “lesser individuals” which were also just as vital to Jesus as the so called “important individuals.” That is, in the midst of the movement that they might forget the importance of those who simply could do good and kind deeds.
Now, have you ever noticed this about Jesus, that He spent more time doing good than He spent preaching the Gospel of God? Not because He didn’t believe that preaching the Gospel of God was important, but because He knew that one of the most effective ways of presenting the Gospel of God was by doing good and kind sacrificial acts. It is clear that God wanted the early group of believers to not concentrate on the preaching and observance of ritual to the exclusion of the importance of human kindness. So, by this one great miracle, He brought the necessity for human kindness into clear relief.
We saw that in the case of Dorcas, this was the only claim to importance that she had. She was doing good and kind and sacrificial deeds for others. Now notice especially that it is significant that she, herself was unimportant. Nobody knew anything about her. As a matter of fact, this is characteristic of those who do good and kind deeds, anonymity.
Although their influence may be small, that is the intimate circle of people who receive these kind deeds is small, there is an influence which goes on from these which is enormous. You can see this everywhere in the Bible and in History. Take the case of Jesus Himself. during His lifetime He probably contacted at best only a few thousand people, and yet when He died upon the cross and went on to the right hand of the Father, the influence of that life persisted not merely because of the actual kind acts and good things He did, but because of the influence that followed the fact that He existed as that kind of person.
I think this gives us an understanding of the way in which God looks at motherhood. There are many cynics today who look upon motherhood and Mother’s Day as hypocrisy. I read recently of a minister in the east who said that he made sure he never preached anything about Mother’s Day because he simply did not believe in it. He said he did not like to say all those nice things about mothers when he knows they are not like that at all.
I, however, feel that he is missing the point entirely. Nobody expects any human being to be perfect. It isn’t actually the number of acts that a mother does that makes motherhood great, it is a kind of attitude which is characteristic of all mothers, no matter how they fail…the giving of themselves on behalf of others…and in this case on behalf of their children.
I know many of you mothers reading this are perhaps embarrassed when you hear the great things about motherhood and you may even feel something of shame because you know you don’t measure up to some vague standards. But, you do not have to be a great light in the world to be able to give light to those around you. If you are merely a candle, and if in the good deeds that you do, there is something of this light of sacrifice, services and kindness, then God can use you as He used Dorcas long ago.
You will notice about this particular incident that God made sure that it was the most unique miracle of all, a miracle of resurrection. This could have been done in another way. God could have arranged for Dorcas just to have become sick and not die and then have her healed from that sickness. But no, she died, so there could be a resurrection. In other words, He wanted to emphasize the eternal nature about these acts that were being carried out. He is trying to tell us here that the goodness of any act of sacrifice and kindness towards any other person is something that is eternal.
Suppose for instance that a mother today does a kind sacrificial act that affects one of her children. As a result of that child being affected, some change is going to occur which is going to cause a corresponding kind deed, possibly of a different nature, but some other good influence in the grandchild, and then in the great grandchild etc, etc, and so it goes for all eternity. This is why it is so important for mothers to set the proper example.
There is another important lesson that we learn from this story. This miracle was telling these people that this Dorcas, whom they’d come to love because she was so close to them, hadn’t really died in any permanent sense. God had the power and He could restore her at any time. Of course inevitably the time would come when Dorcas would die again and go on into eternal life, and there would be no return. But the people then in that little congregation would not feel exactly the same as they did the first time, because they would know that Dorcas was really still there. The very fact that she could come back from out of the other world meant that she was in the other world. It meant that death was only a transition, death was only a veil, and God was in control.
This is something I think that of all of us can be encouraged to learn within this discussion of motherhood. As we think of our own mothers, who in the case of many of you have passed on, we can remember the fact from the Scriptures that this wonderful resurrection story reminds us that our own Godly believing Mothers are going to still live in a more wonderful world than this one, enjoying the fruits of their labors and awaiting our arrival.
They are close to God, the thoughts of whose heart they have expressed in their own lives. I do not mean to say that anything which I say on a Mother’s Day like this, where the pains of bereavement are sharp, can do away with a sense of sadness. This is impossible to do, but as the Scriptures teach us, if we look at these things in the right way, although we will sorrow, we will not sorrow as those without hope. Believing mothers, because of the outreach of God’s power in the kind, sacrificial, good and righteous deeds that they have been doing, have been permanently binding themselves to the very heart of God, so that wherever God is, there they must be forever.
Certainly all of this may come to you mothers with a sense of challenge. You realize that you are a part of a very great ideal, a lofty ideal, which may seem far above your heads, and yet, by simply showing this kind of spirit within your life, you can still be true to motherhood. This can occur not only in the big things that can be done, but in the little things in everyday life, saying the nice things, doing the kind and good acts, even when it would be so easy and maybe even so just to say the sour and negative things. To the extent in which you are doing this, then you are adding to the eternal goodness of the universe.
This story below by Temple Bailey is a superb example of how Godly mothers raise their children and the effects on their lives.
By Temple Bailey
The young mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is the way long?” she asked. And her guide said: “Yes. And the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.” But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried, “Nothing will ever be better than this!”
Then night came, and storms, and the path was dark and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “Oh, mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and we know no harm can come.” And the mother said, “This is better than the brightness of the day, for I have taught my children courage.”
And the morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and drew weary, and the mother was weary, but at all times she said to the children, “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed and when they reached the top, they said, “We could not have done it without you mother.” And the mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today I have given them strength.
And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the whole earth – Clouds of War and Hate and Evil. And the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said, “Look up. Lift up your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting Glory; and it guided them and brought them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said, “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”
And the days went on, and the weeks went on, and the years went on, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother; and when the way was rough, they lifted her for she was light as a feather; at last they came to a hill; and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide.
And the mother said, “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.” And the children said, “You will always walk with us, mother, even when you have gone through the gates.” And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said, “We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a Living Presence.”
What a powerful story. Of course this story should be true for every one of us, not only of mothers, but fathers as well. All men and women, all disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, all have a responsibility to “let our light so shine among men that others may see our good works and glorify God.” Matthew 5:16. Let us pray.by