If I had not read it with my own eyes, I might not have believed it. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with the miraculous working of God throughout the Bible. Countless times I’ve read about how God has done the impossible. He made the waters of a sea stand up in a salute to let a million plus people pass by. He caused the earth to reverse its motion in answer to one man’s prayer. He has done miraculous things.
And beyond that I’ve read how Jesus would touch the sick and they would be made completely well. He had a crippled man who had not walked in decades to stand and walk away in the freedom of youthful energy. He reversed blindness by spitting into clay and placing the mud on the eyes of the blind. He even touched a funeral bier and life came back into the dead. He has certainly done miraculous things.He had a large sea creature swallow a man whole, lodge him inside of his stomach and finally ferry him to an appointed shore so that a city could be warned of their impending ruin. He had His people to walk around a fortified city and by a shout cause the massive walls to collapse as straw. He has done miraculous things.
But the miracle at Joppa must go down as one of the most profound miracles ever. You might remember the city named Joppa from the story of Jonah. It was this port city where Jonah began that fateful trip aboard the ship headed to Tarshish. But the miracle we will focus on today may exceed the Jonah saga.
As Acts chapter 10 records, Peter was up on the roof and fell into a trance. The vision of the creatures in the sheet was shown to him and Peter is commanded to eat. Even though in a trance Peter remonstrates against violating his principles. He next hears a command that gives us a clue that we are watching a miracle unfold.
And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Acts 10:15
Peter was prejudiced.
He looked at others as inferior. Prejudicial attitudes were in the DNA of the entire nation. To converse openly with a Gentile let alone to eat and accept lodging in their quarters was considered a violation of serious magnitude. Being prejudiced was an acceptable way of life. But not for a true follower of Jesus Christ.
The vision that Peter had on the rooftop in Joppa and his resulting change was one of the greatest miracles ever recorded. It was the miracle of a man being freed from the sin of prejudice.
It is a miracle that desperately needs to be repeated in the lives of God’s people today. Prejudice between races in the family of God is as real as it was in the days of Peter. Races, shades of complexion, genders, accents, dialects, beliefs and stations in life are the unspoken prejudices that plague God’s church.
Like Peter it is in our DNA to not only magnify differences but to find constant justification for our ungodly attitudes. Like Peter we need a miracle to free our minds. Even though he had walked, talked and lived with Jesus, it took the vision at Joppa combined with the circumstances of his then present life, to unlock his mind. I’m confident that what God did for Peter He is willing to do for us today.
This story of Peter is full of hope, encouragement and guidance for the church. It shows again how patient and long-suffering God is with His people (and how blind we can be to our own flaws). It reminds us that naming the name of Jesus is not enough – we must have the mind of Jesus. And this story also illustrates that many times it is not a need for new, cutting edge strategies and increased resources that will give us success in spreading the gospel. It is often a matter of a new heart and a willingness to love others as He has loved us.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does the word “prejudice” mean to you?
- Is it realistic to expect believers to be free of all prejudices? Why yes or no?
- What did Peter mean in Acts 10:34 when he said that “God is no respecter of persons?”
- What is the best way to overcome prejudice in others that we are attempting to witness to?
- Is it true that Deuteronomy 28:13, “And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail”, proves that a believer is more highly valued in God’s sight than a non-believer? Why yes or no?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: You cannot love God supremely if you have any known prejudices against others. Explain your answer.
We close this week with parts of two salient verses that cry out to us today, especially in this age of social media commentary. Let’s pray that God gives us each the victory.
“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” “Speak evil of no man.” James 4:11-12, Titus 3:2
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
For online lessons please visit http://http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/15c/less09.html