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!
is such a subtle sin, isn’t it?
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.
Peter’s pilgrimage began in prayer (10:1-9).
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.
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
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!
A Second Step in Peter’s Pilgrimage was a Move from Prayer to Perplexity
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.
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.
Like Peter, Our Pilgrimage May Next Move us from Perplexity to Pondering (vss.
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).
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.
Eventually Pondering Can Turn to Perception and Peace in Jesus (vs. 34).
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!
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).
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
brief provided by: Austin Tucker, a writer and adjunct professor
in Shreveport, LA