“Rise, Peter, kill and eat!”
Here were 5 words that sent Peter into shock! Peter was Jewish and had NEVER in his entire life eaten anything that was considered unclean. The emotions he must have felt at that moment: revulsion, fear, shock, and disbelief. Here was his Lord and Savior, his Rabbi, his JEWISH Master telling him to kill and eat all sorts of “unclean” animals!
Peter’s response was exactly what you would expect. He immediately told the Lord Jesus Christ, “By no means!” What else would you expect from a Jewish man who had been taught his WHOLE life that nothing unclean is allowed to be eaten, by the command of God!
But wait! Maybe we could understand this reaction from Peter the first time he heard this from the Lord Jesus, but was this the first time he heard it?
Look at Mark 7: 14-23:
And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand:
There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”
And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable.
And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him,
since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.)
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
What’s this? Peter already knew that Jesus had declared all foods to be clean for eating? But if he already KNEW this, why would he reply to Jesus with, “By no means?” Maybe the first time he heard it in Mark, we could understand Peter not being able or willing to accept what Jesus was saying. After all, Peter did not yet fully understand who Jesus was. Peter was still operating in the flesh, as evidenced by his denial and turning away from Jesus during the trial and crucifixion.
But in Acts 10, Peter KNEW that Jesus was fully God and Peter had the Holy Spirit to empower him and guide him with Divine discernment; and yet he told God “No!”
This is why I love Peter so much! How many times do we tell God “No” instead of simply accepting what He is telling us? We know that Jesus is fully God and we have the Holy Spirit to empower and guide us and yet, how often do we just tell God “No?”
Share the Gospel with him Lord? Not him, he’s dirty and he won’t accept. (As if we can see the hearts of others)
Stop and help that person change a tire in the rain? (I’ll get wet and it’ll inconvenience me)
Send money to help those who are spreading the Gospel overseas? (But I’ve been saving for something I want)
Any of these sound familiar to you? They do to me. God tells us to do something and we say “no.” He tells us again and we say “by no means!” But we are in good company. Peter the apostle did the same thing and there are lessons to be learned here. God could have taken Peter’s “no” and moved on to someone else, but instead He continued telling Peter what to do 3 times and Peter finally obeyed.
Praise God, that He does not just give up on us when we disobey. Praise God for Philippians 1:6 which tells us,”And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
God will continue to mold us on the Potter’s Wheel until we are conformed to the image of Christ. I’m so thankful that God is sovereign over all of His creation and that he will complete what He began in me. Aren’t you?