This city of Joppa served as Israel’s primary port for centuries. Joppa is only mentioned in two places in the Bible – here with Peter and in the story of Jonah. Both stories are remarkably similar. God told Jonah to go to a place called Nineveh to preach God’s message to the Gentiles. But Jonah doesn’t want to go help Gentiles. So, he runs. And God sends a fish to swallow Jonah and then Jonah prays to be delivered. But even after he goes to Nineveh, Jonah never likes what God is doing. He’s the only prophet sent to a Gentile nation until the New Testament. And He sends another Jewish prophet named Peter to bring His message to the Gentiles. But now the Holy Spirit is involved. Jonah and Peter were being taught the same lesson.
Both stories take place in Joppa; both involve taking God’s message to the Gentiles; both involve animals; both show a receptive audience of Gentiles; but one of the prophets, Peter, gets it, and Jonah does not. Joppa is the gateway for understanding who is really welcome in the Kingdom of God. Through Joppa God sends His message to the nations; to the Gentiles; to people like you and me. Joppa’s greatest export is the Gospel! Should we follow Jesus in breaking down those barriers?
Some of us have grown up with our own idea of a purity code and thought that some people need to be separate from us. We have carried these thoughts and felt hatred for people who are different than us. And maybe we should ask ourselves who is the person I would struggle the most with in sharing Christ. And don’t be surprised if that becomes your very first assignment from the LORD.
Is there a particular group of people you hesitate in sharing the Gospel with? What needs to change in your heart for this to change?
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