A DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS 4

Opening Prayer

As I read about the experiences of men, women, and children in your Word, Father, show me what I can learn from them for my own walk with you.

Read ACTS 11:1–18

Peter Explains His Actions

11 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

“I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

“The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a] water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

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Footnotes

  1. Acts 11:16 Or in
  2. Acts 11:16 Or in

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

How do you deal with criticism, especially if it is unjust?

Think Further

The final act in this drama can be entitled Trouble Back At Home! The news that ‘the Gentiles also had received the word of God’ (v. 1) went ahead of Peter to Jerusalem and we might anticipate that it would trigger an outburst of praise and thanksgiving. In fact, just the opposite happens and he faces a storm of hostile criticism. This reaction by ‘the circumcised believers’ (v. 2) anticipates the opposition which will resurface throughout Luke’s story and become even stronger in reaction to Paul’s mission among the gentiles. Sadly, throughout the subsequent history of the Christian movement, some pioneering evangelists who have broken new ground with the gospel have been misunderstood, criticized for their failure to maintain the traditions of the home church, held at a distance, and even suspected of heresy.

What matters here is Peter’s reaction to this dispiriting reception. How easy it would have been for him to take serious offense, give back as good as he got to his critics and turn away from them as hopeless conservatives who deserved no more of his time. How many divisions have taken place in the church in precisely such circumstances? Peter, however, does not do this; instead, he explained everything to them precisely as it had happened. This is the action of a man who has learned the patience of Jesus, who regards the unity of the people of God across racial and cultural lines as crucial to its testimony and who understands the anxieties of his hearers because he had to overcome precisely such fears himself! The clinching statement in Peter’s defense is the assertion that it was God who poured out the Spirit on the gentiles, so to oppose this development would be to resist the Lord and his purposes for humankind.

Apply

Can you think of situations similar to this one? How might this text be applied to them?

Closing prayer

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for leading me. Help me to follow, especially when you call me to things that are new or different for me.

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by kingstar

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