July 18, 2014
READ: Acts 10:1-48
“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean” (v.14).
As Peter was waiting for lunch, he slipped into a trance and saw a sheet drop from the sky full of unclean animals. The image must have startled him—Why was a good Jew like him having a filthy dream like this? What he heard next shocked him: “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean” (Acts 10:13-14).
This happened three times, which is a familiar pattern for Peter. He denied Jesus three times (John 18:15-27). He was asked, “Do you love me?” three times (21:15-17). Now here in Acts he defends his Jewish tradition three times.
Jewish food laws are difficult for Gentiles to understand, when ‘unclean stuff’ like pork can be a part of a normal diet for a non-Jew. It’s hard to imagine a world without bacon, as it’s now in mayonnaise, lollipops and ice cream! There’s even a French perfume called Bacon.
And that’s the point. God knew that the Gentiles in Canaan ate pigs, so He told His people they couldn’t touch them. This rule prevented the Jews from eating with their pagan neighbours, which was intended to prevent them from mingling and adopting their pagan ways. A kosher diet was God’s training wheels for purity.
Now God was telling Peter that the training wheels were coming off. He was sending His people into the world to mix it up with their unsaved neighbours, starting “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). As Peter told Cornelius who was a Gentile, “God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean” (10:28).
The church that began in Acts 2 and expanded to include Gentiles in Acts 10 crosses every geographic, ethnic and socio-economic boundary. We’re free to eat with almost anyone (see the exception in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11), but we must pay attention to who is influencing us. —Mike Wittmer
365-day plan› John 6:22-40
Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 to learn how we can remain holy as we interact with our non-Christian friends.
What safeguards do you have in place to remain holy? How could they become unnecessary obstacles to sharing Jesus with others?