And [Peter] said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Just before our text, Peter has a vision. It’s an odd one at that: A giant picnic sheet is dropped down from heaven covered in all the animals that a good Jewish boy is supposed to shun: bacon and lobster and all things delicious. He is told to eat, but he can’t, of course, because that would make him unclean. But the Lord tells him something different: What God has made clean must not be called common.
Of course, this has to do with much more than food, for God isn’t all that concerned with food. The food means something more, points to something more important. The Jews had, for a good number of years, seen the Gentiles as inherently unclean. They had a superiority complex over everyone else in the world, simply because of who their grandfather was. They believed that YHWH, God, was only for them and that the salvation that He brought was to stay within their borders.
And this is all strange because Jesus had often spoken to the Pharisees about how lineage meant nothing, about how there would be many Gentiles seated at the heavenly banquet while the sons and daughters of Abraham gnashed their teeth while looking through the window. But it took a while for all of this to sink in for Peter. In fact, he needed a special vision just so that he could wrap his mind around it. No problem, just as long as the Good News of Jesus for all people was proclaimed.
And it was by Peter, for a while. But we hear later in Acts and in Galatians that even the great Peter had difficulty keeping the “Gospel-For-Everyone” business free and clear. He fell in line with the circumcision party that said that a Gentile must first become a Jew if he wanted to be a Christian. But that’s just the thing: In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. There is just forgiven sinner. And no forgiven sinner is greater or less than his brother.
Peter eventually figured this out (check out Acts 15) and spent the rest of his days proclaiming a Jesus for all, a Jesus for you. We give thanks to the Lord above for that! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O love, how deep, how broad, how high, Beyond all thought and fantasy, That God, the Son of God, should take Our mortal form for mortals’ sake! (“O Love, How Deep” LSB 544, st.1)
-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.
Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.