Summary: This sermon uses Peters vision to examine a cure for prejudice.
(powerpoint with subpoints to the three main points is available upon request)
Today’s culture seems to be more attuned to issues of prejudice than perhaps any other time in our history. However; simply being aware of something does not readily present a remedy. Prejudice is very much like a cancer. It is very aggressive and damaging. It is fast growing and its affects far reaching. It destroys lives and relationships and hinders our ability to function as we were designed and intended to. There are few cures in medicine that would be so welcomed and praised as the cure for cancer. So this morning we are going to take a candid look at the very real and readily available cure for the cancer of prejudice.
In order for this cure to work it must be administered just as the doctor prescribes. The instructions are threefold.
1. We must recognize a HISTORY of prejudice. (v. 14)
Peter knew his past and acknowledged it openly. We can also look to Jonah and his feelings toward the Ninevites, the disciples and their attitude toward the Syro-Phoenecian woman and many others. However; prejudice is not only directed at those who are of a different racial or ethnic background. It is also directed towards those of a different socio-economic status, or perhaps even someone whose lifestyle doesn’t measure up to our own high standards. (stated with a tinge of sarcasm)
2. We must have a HEART willing to change. (v. 6)
Here we find that Peter is staying with the Simon the tanner, now we all know what a tanner does. He works with the hides of dead animals. Leviticus 11 makes clear what animals are clean and unclean and also makes clear that even touching the carcass of one of these animals unknowingly makes one unclean. Scripture doesn’t tell us that this particular tanner only dealt in hides that were considered clean, after all many of the carcasses would only defile you till evening. Either way it is clear that Peter was willing to risk that by staying with a tanner. While he may not have eaten of the unclean thing, it didn’t bother him to be around it a little.
3. We must embrace a HERITAGE of love (v. 15)
Aren’t you glad we don’t have to wait to hear the rest of the story? Peter still has to figure out what this means but we have the luxury of looking ahead and knowing how it all plays out. Of course Peter was not exactly known for being the sharpest tool in the shed. He had seen this seen played out without the symbolism time and time again in Jesus ministry. Here are some examples of how Jesus went about calling clean what others would outright reject.
Healing a leper by touching him – Matt 8
Healing a Centurions servant (a gentile) – Matt 8
Calling a tax collector to be a disciple – Matt 8
Healing a woman’s’ daughter (a gentile) - Matt 15
Healing two blind men by touch – Matt 20
Casting out a demon then taking the boy by the hand – Mark 9
Raises the son of a widow from the dead (touches the coffin) – Luke 7
Allowing a sinful woman to touch Him (lifestyle problem) – Luke 7
Healing three women (gender barrier) – Luke 8
Portraying the “good Samaritan” as a neighbor (ethnic barrier) – Luke 10
Samaritan leper is healed and gives thanks (ethnic barrier) – Luke 17
A visit to the house of Zacchaeus (a swindler) – Luke 19
The Samaritan women at the well (ethnic and gender barriers) – John 4
The woman caught in adultery (sexual sin) – John 8
So then what exactly is the cure for the cancer of prejudice? It can be summed up with one command. Jesus said for us to “love one another as I have loved you”, John 13:34. Jesus was able to show love and compassion without rejecting the person or accepting their sin. In every case He loved them unconditionally and charged them to not return to their sin. This is the model we should live by.