Peter, Simon, Aeneas, Tabitha and You
In Acts 9:43, we have a short statement about Peter: “So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.” In Acts 9:32-35, Peter healed Aeneas—who had been bedridden for eight years—in the town of Lydda. Some asked Peter to come to Joppa because Tabitha (Dorcas) died. Peter raised her from the dead. After these events, Peter lodges with Simon, a tanner.
The Holy Spirit intends to communicate a progression here. First, Aeneas was paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. He was likely ritually unclean (Leviticus 15). Peter enters his home and heals him anyway. Second, Tabitha was a dead body and ritually unclean (Numbers 19:11), but Peter went into her room. Third, Simon, a tanner, was a man who worked with dead animals by trade. He and his house were frequently ritually unclean (Leviticus 11:39; Numbers 19:11-22; Haggai 2:13). Peter stayed in his house anyway.
In Acts 10, Peter still struggled with ritual uncleanness. He objects three times about eating unclean animals. The Lord’s response is, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). When the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius, God touched what Peter and the Jewish men with him would not! Peter then asks, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). Ritual impurity was no longer a barrier to doing God’s will, and the church put its hands on the “dirty.”
Do we hold back from teaching the gospel to those who don’t look, smell, act, or live like us because they are “dirty”? God didn’t accept Peter’s reticence, and He won’t accept ours either because He wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).