Simon Peter, Saved by Grace (Part 1)

We were taken to Meerendal Wine Farm today in the farm lands of Durbanville. There they have a lovely restaurant overlooking the farm and a huge dam. A special from Mondays to Fridays is on pizza. Two for the price of one … you pay the highest cost. What a deal, two large pizzas of choice for R110. What a bargain! You could choose vegetarian, vegan, pork, beef, cheese, salami or chicken as the main ingredient decorated with many add-ons. You could choose whatever you want to eat. If you like it, you eat it. In Judaism it was different. There were food laws that prohibited various foods, excluding them from the edible list of foods the Jews were permitted to eat. They were told what they could eat. They did not have a choice like we had with the pizzas. By the time of Noah, animals had been subdivided into categories of “clean” and “unclean” (Gen. 7:2–3, 8–9). The distinction is at least a liturgical one, since after the flood Noah offers one of every kind of clean animal as an ascension offering (Gen. 8:20–21). He doesn’t offer any of the unclean ones. By the time we get to Moses, the rules of unclean food still follow the classification flowing from the Creation to after the Flood. Leviticus 11 lists clean and unclean land animals (vv. 2–8), sea creatures (vv. 9–12), flying things including winged insects (vv. 13–23), and creeping things (vv. 29–30). The concept of impure animals, plays a prominent role in the set of dietary laws … the part of Jewish law that specifies which foods are allowed (kosher) or forbidden to Jews. These laws are based upon the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy of the Old Testament and in the extensive body of rabbinical commentaries known as the Talmud. Every Jew adhered to these Laws strictly because they were considered “good deeds” and added to what some of the elders taught as good works towards salvation. What some Jews who became Christian did not grasp was that through faith in Christ all things like circumcision and dietary laws fell away. Salvation was strictly … grace through faith!

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God … 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

1) Peter the man of God. He was born a Jew, named Simon and raised as such.

He was a married man (Mark 1 says he had a mother-in-law). He was a fisherman and once called by Jesus was named Peter meaning “rock”. Together with James and John, he was part of the inner core of disciples. Although he disowned Jesus, he was reinstated after Jesus’ Resurrection. It seems he was the leader … or at least the spokesman for the Early Church after Jesus’ Ascension. Like each disciple, Peter had a unique character and personality. Like so many of us today he was impulsive. He spoke and acted without much thought. He is the human author the Spirit used to write 1 and 2 Peter and as said before, Mark used his sermons to compile the Gospel of Mark. Acts chapter 2 provides us with an excellent expositional sermon proving Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

2) Peter the man steeped in the Law. Peter was likely like the other disciples but being impulsive was more assertive with his beliefs. He struggled with Gentiles coming into the faith and once God changed his understanding, he felt they ought to be circumcised. That is, faith plus works. Paul opposed him in the New Testament Book Galatians.

3) Peter is taught by God. You will recall that Cornelius was told to send someone to fetch Peter and bring him to explain certain things to him and his household. Before Cornelius sends his servants and a soldier to collect Peter, God starts dealing with Peter (Acts 9:9-23).

Ac 10:9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

It’s the middle of the day. Peter is hungry and it seems as though, not to waste good time, he goes onto the roof top of the house, a common gathering place, almost like a balcony. There he prays and being hungry, with the midday sun made him drowsy. He drifted off to sleep and whist sleeping (“being in a trance”) has a vision.

Ac 10:11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.

To Peter this is bewildering … a huge sheet with both “clean and unclean” animals on it. Then he hears a voice … and this is the voice of the Lord Jesus

Ac 10:13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

He is told to catch (implied), kill, cook (implied) and eat. In other words he is told to eat impure food … eat that which is against the Jewish Laws, especially against what the fore-fathers (elders) have written. Look how he responds

Ac 10:14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

Two things are very clear in this verse.

(1) He responds to the voice acknowledging it to be that of the Lord Jesus … Lord.

(2) He tells the Risen Lord that he has always been a Law Abiding Jew … never has he crossed the line and eaten impure or unclean foods.

There is almost a tension in this verse … on the one hand he is accepting Jesus is the Lord God … the New Covenant of Grace and on the other hand he is clawing onto the Old Covenant’s Dietary Laws. To this Jesus responds

Ac 10:15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

Goodness, Peter must be thinking (see verse 17a), “What’s happening?” To him being a kosher boy all his life, this news is radical!

Ac 10:16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

What has happened is very important … not just for Peter and his fellow Jews, both those who became Christian and those who were still lost … and for us today in our world. I don’t want to preempt what is to come, but the lesson we start grasping so far in yesterday (about Peter) and today’s Daily Note is that God wants to teach him an extremely important lesson. The lesson is that you cannot hold onto the Old Covenant if you want to enjoy the Fruits of the New Covenant. In the Old certain foods and meats were impure and unclean but in the New all foods and meats and now pure and clean and available to be eaten by Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Note … the picture points beyond food and meat to who can be saved. Are you hanging onto any form of “works for salvation?”

Thank You, Lord, for grace that saves. Amen.

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