An amazing miracle in Joppa with Dorcas raised from the dead and ‘This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord’ (Acts 9:42).
Peter stays on in Joppa (modern day Tel Aviv) and Luke repeatedly tells us it is with ‘a certain Simon, a tanner’. It is here he has his vision of the sheet full of unclean animals coming down which eventually propels him (semi-reluctantly?) to make his journey to Cornelius’ house, where he makes his introduction with:
You yourselves know that it is improper for a Jew to associate with or to visit an outsider, but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.
A radical conversion for sure… but a) he has been in Joppa, the very place that Jonah left from so that he might not go to the ‘other’, the Ninevites, so Peter would have that narrative in mind, Joppa the place where in obedience to God we go to those we once thought were unclean; b) he is staying with Simon a Gentile (possibly a Jew, but handling dead animal carcases?), so is already visiting ‘associating and visiting an outsider’; c) as a tanner Simon is working with dead animals so Peter is staying with someone ‘profane and unclean’.
The vision comes and Peter interprets it as a test and holds firm to his tradition / convictions, with a strong ‘never have I…’
All seems strange to me, but illustrates that we are out of the box in Joppa, staying with an unclean Gentile, thinking we are doing so well, but there is further to go… Three people knocking on the door for us to respond to, waiting for us to come down from our place of revelation to connect.
Scripture is full of annoying narratives that don’t help us work out how we are to respond.