"Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon."
Thoughts for Today:For a Jew to stay in a tanner's home was unheard of in Peter's day. A tanner worked with dead animals which made him ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 11:40), and therefore a Jew who came in contact with him would become unclean as well. So for Peter to actually stay "for some time with a tanner named Simon" would have been outrageous and created quite a stir within the Jewish community.
I believe God was using this period of rest to retrain Peter, who was the leader of the church. Up until this time (about 8 years had passed since the Spirit had come at Pentecost), the Gospel had been preached almost exclusively to the Jewish people. This was, as we know, contrary to the Lord's instruction (Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation"). I think one of the things that held the church back from embarking upon the Lord's "Great Commission" was their own prejudices based upon tradition. The Lord was retraining the disciples related to this issue when in Matthew 15:11 He said, "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean [nor does unwashed hands from verse 20], but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean." In other words, it is what's inside a man (his character and his heart) that matters most, not what he eats, drinks, or touches.
Staying with a tanner was a big step for Peter (and the new church) -- it was also one of the beginning points in overcoming prejudice and tradition as we will see in Chapter 10.
Questions to Ponder:We all have traditions and prejudices that we observe -- that are not necessarily scriptural. What are some of yours? Slacks, coat and tie were once the requirement for attendance at church -- things have really changed. New generations will continue to push the envelope on what is an instruction from the Lord versus a prejudice, tradition or preference. How do we remain current and relevant yet scripturally correct? Do you see any prejudices or traditions in your own life you need to rethink?