Summary: Not matter what the ethnic background, those who trust in Christ for salvation are our equals; we should seek to relate to all people groups.
It’s A Jungle Up There!
1. Since the 2nd century, Christians and Jews began thinking of themselves as two separate religious systems. Christianity was for gentiles, but if a Jew became a believer in Jesus, he was considered an outcast.
2. It is still that way today. Here is a recent example:
"I was visiting a local conservative synagogue with my family. At the break, I met some longtime friends, including my former chazzan (cantor, worship leader), who had recently moved to Israel. The chazzan was now working for an organization that promoted Orthodox Judaism among secular Israeli Jews. He was glad to see me ...until I told him I was a Messianic Jew. The rabbi motioned for everyone to be seated, but the chazzan, outraged at my confession, kept turning in his seat to accuse me of betraying my people. I tried answering his accusations, but he grew only more furious— and meanwhile, the service was starting. People seated in front of us were looking back. I felt very embarrassed. I also felt afraid. I had never encountered such hostility in a synagogue.
"I didn’t know what to do, so I silently prayed for the Lord’s help. Just then, I heard the rabbi say, "Please turn to Psalms 27." The Scripture served as an anchor for my soul. As I repeated the words, along with the rest of the congregation, my embarrassment left and my fear disappeared. Strength filled my soul. After the service, the chazzan argued even more intensely with me for several hours. He pushed me, spat on me and insulted me in front of my family, but I was able to maintain peace in my heart and respond to him with gentleness and self control." ’The Voice of the Lord’ - Daily Devotional for Elul 15
3. But the simplicity of all those saved by faith in Jesus Christ being in one body seemed an unthinkable concept in the early 40’s A.D. To some, it still does.
4. Today’s incident involving the vision of Peter helped the church to understand her inclusion of the gentiles into full fellowship.
5. Jewish ethics were in conflict. On the one hand, they had a concern to love alien residents, particularly God-fearing ones. On the other hand, they wanted to remain Kosher.
6. Two tracks of being "clean." One was being obedient to Kosher standards, which is the issue in our text. The other is to be clean to celebrate a festival. Lots of normal biological functions, touching a dead body, etc., could make one unclean in this way.
I Samuel 20:25-27 takes place during a New Moon festival; the issue here is being "clean" to celebrate a festival.
He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, "Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean." But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, "Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?"
7. But Kosher cleanness was a lifelong pursuit; the rabbis put "fences" around the Kosher laws so that a Jew might not accidentally eat something that wasn’t kosher. Perhaps the blood was not completely drained out of the beef, or milk and meat were mixed together. Or perhaps some pork or lobster or squid was added to the pot. Or the pot may have been used to cook crab beforehand, and a miniscule bit of it might remain.
8. The Mishna says, "The dwelling places of Gentiles are ritually unclean (Ohalot 18:7). David Stern summarizes other passages in the Mishna,"…Jews may not remain alone with Gentiles, leave cattle at their inns, assist them in childbirth, suckle their children, do business with them when they are traveling to idolatrous festivals, drink their milk or vinegar or wine…or eat their bread or oil or pickled vegetables or…their cooked food."
[Source: Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern, p. 258.]
Leviticus 19:34, "The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God."
Main Idea: Not matter what the ethnic background, those who trust in Christ for salvation are our equals; we should seek to relate to all people groups.
I. God OPENED Peter’s Mind Toward Associating With Gentiles (10:9-29)
A. Peter’s VISION (9-16)
1. Let me summarize the vision
2. Note it took 3 times to get through to Peter; he was resistant
• 3 denials
• 3 "do you love Me?" questions
• 3 times the sheet comes down
• Peter made changes against his will & found it easy to revert back to his upbringing; later, he confronted by Paul (documented in Galatians)