Them and Us- Monday, 4th Week of Easter- Acts 11:1-18

Most Christians are prone to believing that there is one and only one Pentecost in the Bible; namely the Jerusalem Pentecost, which has found its way in many works of art. Yet the Acts of the Apostles is called ‘the book of the Holy Spirit,’ for precisely this reason that the book resounds with the work of the Spirit descending on the Church at several places and times.

In the Acts we hear of the Samaritan Pentecost (chapter 8) and the Gentile Pentecost (Chapter 10), thus making it clear as Peter said, “that God shows no partiality”(10:34). But this fact was hard to digest for the circumcised believers (Jews who now followed Jesus). So what really was their problem?

Leviticus 11 made clear that one was prohibited from eating certain animals that the Gentiles had no problem relishing (the pig being one of them.) For a Jew to sit at the same table with a Gentile was itself unthinkable. To eat from the same table, food that was prohibited, was considered an abomination. No wonder then that Peter got anything but a hero’s welcome when returning to Jerusalem; for he had gone down on two counts irrespective of the successful mission that had brought so many to the Lord.

Peter does not take the “criticism” personally or give into his own temper tantrum, the once knife wielding, ear cutting aggressive man has now been transformed by His own personal Pentecost. This is a transformed Peter with the gift of wisdom for he now “explains to them step by step” the events that led him to not only go to the uncircumcised, but also eat with them.

Make no mistake, the Holy Spirit requires our openness, and Peter himself did not get the message all at once – the message that God wanted him to take His Word and mission to the uncircumcised. By Peter’s own admission he says, “three times “he was told that what God had made everything clean and hence he must not call them profane.” Peter acknowledges how long it took him to be open to the new direction the Spirit was leading him to, and so he gets it when the disciples at Jerusalem are mad at him and reluctant to accept his actions so quickly.

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