SHIPMATE: Tickets to Tarshish! Who’s sailing to Tarshish? We have four seats left and then the boat leaves.
JONAH: Me, sir! One ticket please… to Tarshish.
SHIPMATE: You, boy? What do you want to go to Tarshish for? Ah, never mind. Let me put your name down. What is it?
JONAH: Jonah, sir. Son of Amittai.
SHIPMATE: Kind of a nervous one, aren’t you Jonah? I hope you’re not running away from something. Anyhow, pay your fare to that man down on the dock and then you can board. Three tickets to Tarshish! Who’s sailing to Tarshish?
BENJAMIN: Baba, was that right before the great fish swallowed him?
SIMON: Exactly, Benjamin. And it happened right here in our hometown of Joppa hundreds of years ago.
BENJAMIN: Wow. I wish I could get swallowed by a fish. It would be like an underwater boat ride.
SIMON: Finish your breakfast, son. I must go off to work. They say a fleet of ships will be arriving soon and I want to have all the leather finished and ready to sell.
BENJAMIN: Can I come with you, Baba?
SIMON: Not today.
SHARON: Simon, did you hear?
SIMON: No, my dear, what is it?
SHARON: Tabitha died last night. I just saw Elizabeth passing by and she told me.
SIMON: Oh, no! I knew she was ill, but—
SHARON: The rest of the widows have already begun mourning. They’ll be getting the upper room ready for her.
SIMON: Tabitha will be greatly missed. She had no equal in generosity and good works. Is there anything we can do?
SHARON: Not now. I just wanted you to know before you left for work.
SIMON: Thanks, honey. I’ll see you tonight.
SHARON: Okay. Just make sure you bathe before coming home this time. Just because I’m the wife of a tanner doesn’t mean I need to smell like one too.
Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Tabitha made while she was with them.
But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
SHARON: Simon, isn’t this wonderful? Our eyes have seen a miracle.
SIMON: I can hardly believe it.
SHARON: Me too. Bless the Lord. They say Peter will preach again tonight.
SIMON: Frankly, I don’t know where they’re going to put all the people after last night’s message on Jesus and Lazarus.
SHARON: Maybe this is what revival feels like. It’s so exciting.
SIMON: Yes, so many are believing in the Lord and Peter preaches so well.
SHARON: I don’t want him to leave.
SIMON: Why would he, Sharon? God is clearly moving in this place.
SHARON: But it just wouldn’t be right for him to stay in Tabitha’s house.
SIMON: She does have the most space of anyone in the church. Plus the view from her house is second to none.
SHARON: But Simon, with her being single and Peter’s wife not here, people would talk.
SIMON: That’s one thing you can always count on.
SHARON: But Peter can’t leave yet.
SIMON: Well, what if he could stay here?
SHARON: In our house?
SIMON: Why not?
SHARON: Well, I’d have to clean up first. And go by the market to make sure we have enough food. What do apostles eat anyway?
SIMON: Benjamin could sleep on the floor in our room, so at least Peter would have a bed.
SHARON: And our view from the roof is nice enough.
SIMON: Okay, dear. Let’s ask him at tonight’s meeting.
SHARON: But after the sermon, Simon. Don’t distract poor Peter. He has enough to think about with all these people clamoring for his attention and wanting him to pray for their illnesses.
And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.
SIMON: Peter, what can I pass you for breakfast?
PETER: Oh, anything will do. Or everything. I always eat like a horse after preaching.
SHARON: You must be tired.
PETER: Not too bad, ma’am. Thanks to Benjamin’s sturdy bed, I slept like a baby.
BENJAMIN: Baba, will Mr. Peter preach again tonight?
SIMON: You can ask him, son.
BENJAMIN: Will you preach tonight?
PETER: I fully intend to, young Ben.
BENJAMIN: I like your stories. Did you really walk with Jesus?
PETER: For three years. It was like a dream.
BENJAMIN: Did you also walk on water?
PETER: Hahaha. Yes, I did that too, but not for very long.
SIMON: Family, I’m sorry to eat and run, but they’ll be expecting me down at the tannery. Peter, what will you need for today? A little fishing, perhaps?
PETER: Sounds tempting, but I’ll have to get ready to preach again tonight. It’d probably be best if I could have a quiet space to pray and a good hearty lunch so I have my energy for this evening.”
SHARON: Simon, could he use the roof?
SIMON: Of course, my love. Peter you’ll find our roof very peaceful and quiet. My favorite place for a Sabbath nap. Take as much time as you like. My wife will be off to the market this morning and she can pickup anything you’d like for lunch. Fish. Lamb. Figs. Dates.
PETER: Sounds perfect, Simon. Thank you.
SIMON: I’ll be working late tonight, but should see you at the evening meeting. I’ll be praying for you, Peter.
PETER: I very much appreciate that, Simon. Thanks again for your hospitality.
SIMON: Of course, of course. Stay as long as you like.
BENJAMIN: Bye, Baba.
SIMON: Goodbye, son. See you tonight.
Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.
And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”
PETER: Gentlemen, I am the one you’re looking for.
BENJAMIN: Mama, who are all these soldiers? Did Peter do something wrong?
SHARON: I don’t think so, Ben.
PETER: Gentleman, what is the reason for your coming?
SOLDIERS: Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.
PETER: Ma’am, is it alright if they come in?
SHARON: Oh yes, Peter.
So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.
SIMON: I wish I could go with you, Peter. But my employees and business need me here in Joppa. Not to mention, my family.
PETER: I know.
SIMON: But I’m just so curious. To think that Gentiles are seeing angels and asking for the word of God. What’s going to happen next?
PETER: I’ll send the brothers back with a full report. Simon, we’ve each received a gift and we’re to use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. I speak. You serve. Both of us work by the strength that God supplies in order than in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
SIMON: Thank you, Peter! You’re welcome back anytime.
PETER: I’ll never forget your kindness and generosity... nor your wife’s cooking. The way Jesus put it back in the early days was this:
‘The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.’ (Matthew 10:41)
You folks have done that and the Lord will surely reward you. Until next time…
SIMON: Goodbye, Peter.
BENJAMIN: Goodbye, Mr. Peter.
The next day, while Peter was preaching in Cornelius’ house...
The Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on Gentiles.
This was a turning point moment for the early church. It was the day they understood that salvation is for Jews and Gentiles. It was the day when the whole world became their mission field.
And behind it was a man who history has almost totally forgotten. He was Peter's Gospel Patron, invested and involved in gospel ministry as a tanner. His willing generosity landed him a significant part in the story of God; so significant that his name is etched into the eternal word of God.
He will forever be remembered as “Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” (Acts 10:6)