I gave up geography when I was 16, all the sharpening of coloured pencils necessary was just too much for me. But geography often matters when we read the Bible. Places have significance. That's the case here in Acts 10, where is Peter? Peter is in Joppa. Why does Joppa ring a bell biblically? Because it is the town from which a fleeing Jonah set sail to anywhere but Nineveh as he rejected God's call to take his message to the people of Nineveh.
It is telling that Peter is given his vision and is told to go with these men to the home of a Gentile while in the place where Jonah tries to launch his abortive attempt to flee from God's call to do the same thing. Jonah prizes the special place of Israel, God's people. He knows the growing threat to Israel is from Nineveh, so why would he risk them turning to a merciful God and escaping judgement. Peter's situation is not that different, Cornelius is a centurion, part of the apparatus to the empire which rules over Israel, the actual oppressing power rather than just a potential one, and yet God calls him to take the gospel to him. Luke records for us Peter's struggle, three times he debates whether to eat what God has provided with God, then it takes further prompting to get him to go, and it is only after he hears from Cornelius that he understands that the gospel is for everyone without partiality.
It's worth us asking who have we ruled out of the gospel? Who would we never consider taking the gospel to? Peter's barrier is to do with race, the us and them of Jew Gentile relationships. Who are our us and them's?
Had God not taught Peter this valuable lesson we may never have heard the gospel. Who is there who is not hearing the gospel because of our us and them complex? What will we do about it? Peter goes when he realises, he preaches the gospel to them when he finally understands, will we? What will that look like?