A Tanning Session

“Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner” (Acts 9:43 NRSV).

Those two disciples (different than THE disciples, as in Acts the 12 are referred to as “the Apostles”) rushed Peter from Lydda to Joppa. He didn’t have time to drop off his bags, rest his surely tired feet, and take a quick nap. No, those disciples were on a mission and they brought Peter straight to the place where they laid Tabitha’s body. There he continued the ministry of Christ who brought life into places where death seemingly ruled. He brought her back and many people believed in Jesus because of him (though Peter probably would say it was because of the Spirit). 

Now he needed a place to stay. After all the hubbub and action had subsided; after Tabitha had given him her thanks; after everyone went their separate ways, Peter needed to figure out where he was going to lay his head. 

Some how or another he must have been put into contact with Simon. Maybe he was a friend of a friend, or maybe Peter used the 1st century equivalent of Airbnb. Who knows. Apparently though, they two hit it off because Luke (the name we give the anonymous author of Acts) tells us Peter stayed there awhile. I wonder if the two of them got confused with one another (Peter’s given name was Simon after all.)

But even more curious is the fact that Simon was a tanner. This man’s identity was bound up in him touching dead animals, and that made him unclean. He  

 wasn’t a sinner in the way Jesus dined with tax-collectors and prostitutes, but Peter was definitely going out on a limb staying with Simon. 

Maybe the Spirit was moving in this little throw away line. Maybe Luke is letting us know where this story is going to go. Maybe we get our first glimpse of the inclusion of those on the outside of society into this Jesus movement. Maybe, just maybe, God is help nudge Peter to expand his horizons. 

I wonder if God ever does the same for you? I know God has for me, I’ve only just had to pay attention. 


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