And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
Simon Peter was in a quandry.
He was up on the roof of a friend’s house spending time in prayer. While he was waiting for the midday meal to be prepared he fell into a trance and saw something very strange. Acts 10:11-15 records the event.
[He] saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
As a Torah-observant Jew, Peter had never consumed food that the Law of Moses declared as unclean – foods like pork, camel, snake, etc. And yet now God Himself seemed to be telling him something different. And just to be sure that Peter got the message, God repeated this vision three times!
God wasn’t contradicting what he’d said in His law. In the centuries since Moses, the rabbis had “interpreted” and “expanded” God’s law to say things He had never intended it to say. One example of this in the first century is that a Jew would never willingly have any contact with a Gentile (non-Jew) including entering their home, for fear of becoming ritually unclean. God’s law had never included this prohibition. In fact, God had clearly spoken through the prophets that He would one day send a redeemer who would be a “light to the Gentiles” and bring His salvation “to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
What Peter didn’t realize was that God was preparing him for visit from three men who would invite him to come to Caesarea to share the Gospel with a Roman centurion and his family. God was emphatically telling Peter that it was time to set aside his religious and ethnic prejudice and enter the home of a Gentile in order that God might save him and his whole family. Peter was physically hungry, but God was showing him that there was a family who were spiritually hungry to hear about how they could be rescued from their sinful condition.
So where are we willing (unwilling) to go in order to share the Gospel with people who are “hungry” to hear about the love of Jesus? I’m convinced that God is calling me to set aside my own prejudices and reach out to people who make me uncomfortable – people I might have previously considered untouchable – in order to tell them about Jesus. It’s always a challenge and a struggle when God calls us to do new things that make us uncomfortable, but it’s comforting to know that He’s promised to give us the strength to do it by His Holy Spirit.
So, where are you willing to go today to tell someone about Jesus?