A DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS

Opening Prayer

As I open your Word today, Father, prepare me to see things from your perspective, to apply what you teach me in new and different ways.

Read ACTS 10:9–23a

Peter’s Vision

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”

22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

Peter at Cornelius’s House

The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.

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Footnotes

  1. Acts 10:19 One early manuscript two; other manuscripts do not have the number.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Be open to the voice of the Spirit and willing to break new ground.

Think Further

The second act in our drama covers verses 9–23a (we will pick the story up from verse 23b tomorrow). This act we can describe as The Reluctant Missionary. We are taken to Joppa, where we earlier left the apostle Peter lodging ‘with a tanner named Simon.’1 That little detail is important, because the tanner’s trade, being associated with death, was regarded as unclean. Peter has taken a small step beyond his comfort zone before confronting the challenge to come.

There is an obvious parallel between this scene and the previous one in that, like Cornelius, Peter is at prayer and, like him, receives a response from heaven. However, unlike Cornelius, three times Peter cannot accept the divine instruction, and he utters the contradictory response: ‘Surely not, Lord!’ (vv. 14, 16). The vision of clean and unclean animals was an illustration of the cultural and social implications of the cross of Jesus, removing barriers which prevented table fellowship between Jews and gentiles. Peter’s mission to the spiritually hungry Cornelius cannot happen unless he is able to receive fresh light and overcome his reluctance to enter gentile space. Notice the providential timing of the knock on the door (vv. 17, 18). Peter’s struggle will be resolved by meeting actual people sent from Cornelius, although his initial response in verse 21 is surely a further example of Luke’s sense of humor!

Justo Gonzalez comments: we are now the people who have ‘laws, rules, and principles that … run the risk of being obstacles to our mission … We often limit our circle of contacts, so that we are always among believers and avoid rubbing shoulders with those who do not believe as we do.’2

Apply

Consider the change that is needed if God’s mission is to reach the world as it is today.

Closing prayer

Father, please move in my community of faith and show us how to better extend welcome to everyone.

Last Updated on June 17, 2024 by kingstar

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