The narrative of the book of Acts takes a pause and moves away from what was happening through Peter for a few chapters, but as he comes back into focus at the end of Acts 9, we see a great miracle that Peter does as nearly a complete imitation of an experience that he had with Jesus.
Peter had been traveling, something that we hadn’t seen much before the persecution had broken out, but now he had gone to Lydda and had healed a man named Aeneas there. While in Lydda, two men come to get him to take him to Joppa, which is today at the coast, at the old port in modern-day Tel Aviv.
When Peter arrived, he found that a disciple there named Tabitha had died. Her body had already been washed and was being prepared for burial. They had placed her in an upper room.
But just as Jesus had done in the case of Jairus’s daughter, he sent everyone out of the room except for Peter, James, and John, and the daughter’s parents, then called the little girl to stand up, which is exactly what she had done.
In Peter’s case, he did very similarly. He had been called from another city and he came. As he arrived, he sent everyone out of the room. In this case, he took a moment to pray, presumably asking Jesus to work on his behalf, and then told Tabitha to stand up. And she did, to the amazement of everyone!
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.Acts 9:40-42
I think that we see here an imitation of what Jesus had done. Peter didn’t have any specific recipes in his own mind for what he should do in the case of someone who had died. He was simply following the example of what he had seen Jesus do. He had walked with Jesus and seen his actions, and so now he simply did the same.
And what about us? We can not only read the teachings of Jesus, but we can imitate his actions too, can’t we? Can’t we also do as our master did? This might include miracles, but there are many other ways that we can learn from what Jesus did. What was his strategy in getting his message, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, out? Should we do the same? What did he both do and teach his disciples to do in the face of danger? Should we do the same? How did he live, and move, and work among various peoples and nations with whom he came in contact. Should we do the same?
Peter imitated Jesus in his actions. We must not only know the theology of Christ, but we must know his actions, his practice, and do the same.