Saturday 20 May 2017

Bible Book:

“If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” (v. 17)

Acts 11:1-18 Saturday 20 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm 9:1-10


In the Thursday's and Friday's passages (link), we reflected onPeter's experience at the house of the Cornelius in Joppa, and thenof his realisation that behind his vision and encounter withCornelius was God's word that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for theGentiles as well as the Jews.

This is the firm experience of Peter and the six brothers whowere with him; however, it comes as something of a shock whenreported to the rest of the Jewish Christian community inJerusalem. So, when Peter returns they are initially quite criticaland ask him: "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat withthem?" (v. 3).

Peter's response was to set out the experience of what hashappened to him, as we have read; first his vision at Joppa of asheet of unclean animals being lowered before him, then the arrivalof the three messengers following Cornelius' vision in Caesarea,all of which were then confirmed by the encounter at Cornelius'home, as a result of which, as he began to speak, "the Holy Spiritfell upon them just as it fell upon us at the beginning" (v.15).

In this explanation, Peter reflected on words of John theBaptist, that he "baptized with water" but that you will be"baptized with the Holy Spirit" (v. 16), but which he attributed asthe words of Jesus himself, to which the coming of the Holy Spiritbears proof. And then in the light of all this, Peter nailed hiscolours to the mast; "If then God gave them the same gift that hegave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that Icould hinder God?"

On the face of it, his fellow apostles seem convinced. We aretold they first fall silent, before going on to praise God andaffirm their understanding of all that has happened, how "God hasgiven even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life" (v.18). We know from other sources in Paul's letters and the accountof the Council of Jerusalem in Acts15, that it was not quite so simple, and that the relationshipbetween Jewish and Gentile Christians would remain something of athorny issue for generations to come. Nevertheless, Acts9-11 reveal how a significant turning point has been reached,and how the Apostles will henceforth speak of being 'sent to thenations', as well as to the people of Israel.

To Ponder

  • It's easy to be critical of the community in Jerusalem; howwell do we deal with differences in our own community?
  • Have you ever experienced criticism about your practice offaith and the company you keep? How did you respond to it?
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