9 It was about noon the next day. The men were on their journey and were approaching the city. Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry. He wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared, Peter had a vision. 11 He saw heaven open up. There he saw something that looked like a large sheet. It was being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It had all kinds of four-footed animals in it. It also had reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “No, Lord! I will not!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything that is not pure and ‘clean.’” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time. “Do not say anything is not pure that God has made ‘clean,’” it said. 16 This happened three times. Right away the sheet was taken back up to heaven. 17 Peter was wondering what the vision meant. At that very moment the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house. They stopped at the gate 18 and called out. They asked if Simon Peter was staying there. 19 Peter was still thinking about the vision. The Holy Spirit spoke to him. “Simon,” he said, “three men are looking for you. 20 Get up and go downstairs. Don’t let anything keep you from going with them. I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down and spoke to the men. “I’m the one you’re looking for,” he said. “Why have you come?” 22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius, the Roman commander. He is a good man who worships God. All the Jewish people respect him. A holy angel told him to invite you to his house. Cornelius wants to hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter went with the three men. Some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them. He had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him. As a sign of respect, he fell at Peter’s feet. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said. “I am only a man myself.” 27 Talking with Cornelius, Peter went inside. There he found a large group of people. 28 He said to them, “You know that it is against our law for a Jew to have anything to do with those who aren’t Jews. But God has shown me that I should not say anyone is not pure and ‘clean.’ 29 So when you sent for me, I came without asking any questions. May I ask why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius answered, “Four days ago at this very hour I was in my house praying. It was three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood in front of me. 31 He said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer. He has remembered your gifts to poor people. 32 Send someone to Joppa to get Simon Peter. He is a guest in the home of another Simon, who works with leather. He lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you right away. It was good of you to come. Now we are all here. And God is here with us. We are ready to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
The thing that stands out to me in this passage is that Peter has a full-on trance and vision from God and is given some very specific instructions from God. You’d think that Peter would be so over-awed by this experience that he would readily obey w
hatever God is asking. Not so.
Peter actually has the audacity to say “no way!” to God. In fact, God even has to repeat Himself three times to ask the same thing and yet Peter still says “by no means, Lord” – three times!
Peter, obviously thought he knew better than God on this one. The funny thing is that calling someone “Lord” means that you are prepared to do whatever they ask. So “by no means, Lord” is really not a logical or acceptable answer.
Yet, it turns out that God did actually know better than Peter (how surprising!) on this one. The end result of what God asked Peter to do, and what Peter eventually came around to doing was to open up the Gospel to the gentiles, since previously they had only been focusing on the Jews. This had far reaching implications and changed the world forever. We can be grateful that Peter finally decided to obey God!
So how often do we say “no way” to God? It seems rather obvious to say this, but God actually does know better than us, so saying yes to God is really the only intelligent response.
Lord, help me to truly have you as my Lord in my readiness to obey You – even when I don’t understand or necessarily want to obey. Thank you that You see the big picture. I want my life to make a difference for eternity, so help me to not just walk the easy path, but to walk the path that You have called me to.
Written by Shelley Witt