Pilgrimage From Prejudice Austin B. Tucker November 1, 2004 Acts 10:34-43 Like most people who grew up in northwest Louisiana in the mid twentieth century, I absorbed a lot of racial prejudice from my culture. I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, for prejudice of all kinds is usually unconscious and unintended. In time God let me see my racial prejudice and delivered me from it. Then I had to overcome my prejudice against those who were still racist! Pride is such a subtle sin, isn’t it? It’s not a long journey from Joppa to Caesarea by the Sea. It’s only about thirty-two miles up the coast of Samaria – little more than a day’s journey in the first century world of Simon Peter. But for Peter it was a life-transforming pilgrimage. It was a pilgrimage from prejudice. I. Peter’s pilgrimage began in prayer (10:1-9). It is interesting that prayer figured prominently on both ends of this journey. Cornelius “and all his family were devout and God-fearing . . . and prayed to God regularly.” At the hour of mid-afternoon prayers, God spoke to him in a vision about Peter. At the same time God was preparing Peter for his pilgrimage. Already Peter had accepted the hospitality of Simon the Tanner in Joppa. A tanner deals with dead animals all the time. That makes him ceremonially unclean. Not only that, but this coastal town was in the territory of the much maligned half-Jews, the Samaritans. Still, Peter was a very Kosher Hebrew and very faithful in his prayers. As the servants of Cornelius approached Joppa, Peter was on the flat rooftop patio in prayer. In spite of some baby steps Peter had already made, we may be sure he was not praying about his racial pride and prejudice. Such a prayer is all but impossible, for the person who can see his prejudice has already made the first step away from that blindness. Peter was in prayer, and that’s a wonderful place to meet God and come to know His heart – and your own! II. A Second Step in Peter’s Pilgrimage was a Move from Prayer to Perplexity (vs 10-17). During his prayer he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a great sheet or sail being lowered to him from heaven. All kinds of animals were gathered in it, and a voice from heaven said, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat” (vs. 13). Even though he was hungry waiting for the call to the noonday meal, he could not imagine obeying the heavenly voice. Why not? Well he was a Kosher Jew and all these animals were on the list of forbidden foods. He had never eaten any of them and reminded God of that. But the vision and the voice confirmed to him in a three-fold repetition, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (vs. 15). The men sent by Cornelius arrived at the gate “while Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision” (vs. 17). The verb here means to be greatly perplexed as several English translations show. A time of perplexity is often a very teachable moment. III. Like Peter, Our Pilgrimage May Next Move us from Perplexity to Pondering (vss. 17-20). While Peter was still puzzling over the vision and what God might be saying to him, the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart. God told him to get up and go downstairs. He was not to hesitate to go with the strangers (vss. 19-20). Though I grew up in a culture steeped in racial prejudice, I saw my own father challenge that culture. He refused to follow conventions that dictated that he call black peo-ple by their first name while they always used the title “mister” for him. As a plumbing contractor, he defied union rules that forbad him to hire a black man for anything more than ditch digging. The person who thinks reflectively is a growing soul, especially if his thoughts grow out of his private prayer life. The unthinking person is static and stale. IV. Eventually Pondering Can Turn to Perception and Peace in Jesus (vs. 34). Peter went down at the Lord’s word and welcomed the delegation from Gentile Cornelius. He even invited them to share his hospitality in the home of Simon the Tanner. The next day he went with them to Caesarea. Would Peter have done any of this before his encounter with the Lord in prayer? Surely not! In Caesarea, Peter confessed his heritage of blind prejudice, but he could give testimony now to God’s grace to deliver. “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (vs. 34). Peter perceived three things particularly. One, that he was just a man like all other men (vs. 26). Second, that God does not discriminate as we do (vs. 34). And third, that God did not want him to call any man impure or unclean (vss. 27-28). That day God used Peter to open the door of salvation to the non-Jewish nations of the world. What use will he make of us when we are delivered from our blind and sense-less prejudice? ____________________ Sermon brief provided by: Austin Tucker, a writer and adjunct professor in Shreveport, LA Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.