9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made enquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.
The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered.28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”
30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
I know that I struggle with prejudice. I think that we all do to some extent. Some people have racial prejudice, some people are prejudice with relation to class, some people are nationalistic, other people are prejudice against another gender. For Peter, his prejudice was his cultural prejudice against Gentiles. Jesus had started to push at his disciples’ misconceptions by feeding and healing Gentiles. Now Peter had to understand his prejudice more completely so that the gospel could be spread.
In McHenry, Illinois some men and women don’t look after themselves and their dress and their appearance. I find myself imagining a home life for them which is far from peaceful. The truth is I have no idea, but I do have prejudice. I have to deal with my presuppositions and be open to those who do not dress or act like me, even in my own community.
Father, I have preconceptions and prejudice toward people who are not like me. I want you to lessen that so that I am not judgmental or condemning of anyone. I want to be a conduit of grace to all your children.
- Against whom was Peter prejudiced?
- How did God address this?
- How was Peter then able to minister?
- Against whom are you prejudiced?
- How is God challenging that?