Listening To Repeats
Patient Father, do not tire of repeating your messages to me, because I am sometimes slow to learn your truth.
Read Acts 11:1-18
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Surely life is to know Jesus Christ and through him to be ready fearlessly to meet the call of God when it comes” (William Barclay).
For Luke and Peter, three repetitions are important. Peter, who denied Christ three times (Luke 22:54-62), was asked three times whether he loved him (John 21:15-17). The sheet from heaven appeared to him three times (Acts 10:16). For Luke in the book of Acts, there are two incidents that he records three times: the conversions of Saul and Cornelius. This repetition shows the importance of these events in the life of the church. Peter does not have to defend his action alone. There are the six brothers from Joppa who have gone with him to Jerusalem. Seven men witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius’ household.
Now Peter reflects on the event and puts it in context. First he notes that the descent of the Spirit paralleled what had happened at Pentecost. The manner of his coming identified that this was the same Spirit who had come then. More than that, Peter recalls the words of Jesus about the coming of the Spirit. Not to accept these Gentiles would be to reject God’s own testimony.
This issue about Gentiles becoming full members of the people of God was an ongoing one in the life of the early church. Later in church history the opposite problem occurred, as Jewish membership of the church was rejected. The integration of people of differing backgrounds into one church continues to be a matter of debate in world mission. Everyone recognizes that people prefer to come to faith in a group where everyone is the same, but the Gospel imperative is the breaking down of barriers between people of different backgrounds who now have a common belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Paul regards this as the creation of a real new humanity (Eph. 2:15).
How are you working to make the new humanity that Jesus has created a reality now? How is it (or could it be) evident in your church?
Lord, I’m thankful that because You accept me in Jesus Christ, I belong to Your people regardless of their circumstances. Help me to live out this truth.
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