Peter Is Called to Account for What Happened
Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of small animals, wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’ “‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean. ‘ “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven. Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’ “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as He fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift He gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”Acts 11:1-17
Here is the next section for us to concentrate on. But it seems like we have heard it before. It is this kind of passage which we have a tendency to skip over. Luke has already told us about this. We could have gone back to Jerusalem and reported to the Jewish believers ourselves. But of course our witness would not bear much weight. It would not have been first hand eye witness account. It would have been of the “she-said-he-said” variety. Most often when we face this kind of passage in the Bible, one with which we are familiar because we have heard it before, our minds have a tendency to slip into automatic. Yeah yeah, heard it all before. But hang on a moment. We already know that it is important to take note of repetition. Repetition is there for a purpose. You would not have dared as a young child to have ignored the things that your mum told you over and over again. To do so would have been to call judgment down on yourself. Well, it is advisable not to ignore the input in this case either.
Yes it is true that Luke is serving up the same account again. But if he did, it must have been important, not only for the apostles and the Jewish believers in Jerusalem but also for us living in the 21st Century. These things are written so that all of us can benefit. You can almost hear Jesus words ringing out from John 17. I have clipped some excepts for you.
“I have revealed You to the ones You gave Me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from You, for I have passed on to them the message You gave Me. They accepted it and know that I came from You, and they believe You sent Me. . .John 17:6-8
. . . I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. . .John 17:14
. . . Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth. Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth. I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message.John 17:17-20
The same things Jesus spoke of in His Priestly prayer in John 17 applies here. Luke wrote these things so that we might hear, accept and believe and so we might pass it on to future generations. Isn’t that what it is all about as we were told in Deuteronomy 6. This is not just for us but for all who will believe through Luke’s message. So sit up and take notice of what he has written for us. Luke could have replaced verses 4 to 15 with a short statement for us as readers by telling us “So Peter repeated to them all that had taken place in Caesarea.” He could have saved a lot of space and made the Bible shorter and easier to read. That is what a band of people are doing in America by developing the Abbreviated Bible. Cutting out from the Bible all the repetition and redundancy. That would make it easier to read through your Bible each year if the repetition was removed.
Here is my version of their Abbreviated Bible for this section
Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. So Peter told them all that had taken place in Caesarea. Then he thought of the Lord’s words when He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift He gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” (IAB – Ian’s Abbreviated Bible)John 17:17-20
Wouldn’t you like that Bible? It would save so much time and then you really could read through the Bible easily in a year. But I guess I also need to remind you of Adam Sandler’s experience in the movie Click when he found the Universal Remote Control which enabled him to fast forward his wife’s nagging (read repetition) and all the seemingly superfluous stuff of life only to realise it was important after all.
I think it’s time for us to pay closer attention to what Luke has served up for us. Bring your questions to the table as well.
Clips from the movie Click and some grandfatherly advice:
- Do you feel like there not enough time in a day, life is out of control?
- I am looking for a universal remote control to make my life a little easier and less complicated.
- Take control of your life. Fast forward through the boring bits.
- I’ve skipped my whole life.
God repeated the essential things in life in the Bible so we would “get it” in the end. Just look at the book of Judges.Ian Vail
And every man did what was right in his own eyes. The Israelites forgot God and did evil and God gave them over to the __________ .Ian Vail
Then after years of oppression they cried out to God and He gave them a judge.Ian Vail
Don’t Click or Tweet your life away.Ian Vail