Peter’s Vision (Acts 10:9-23a)

Today’s passage is about one of my favourite topics – FOOD!! I often suffer from what is known as being ‘hangry,’ you know when you reach that place where you’re just so hungry you start getting angry at everything because you can’t stop thinking about food? Most of my friends know this about me and are quick to encourage me to eat when I reach this point. Whenever I’m in this state of being hangry, it’s not uncommon that I start imagining things about food, especially delicious food that I would really like to be consuming in that very moment.

It’s been less than 24 hours since Cornelius sent messengers to fetch Peter as the angel had instructed him. Let’s find out what was happening for Peter at this same time, and how he responds when he wants to eat.

Acts 10:9-15 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

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

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

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Here we hear that Peter has been rather hungry, and that he’s fallen into a trance. I can imagine if I were in Peter’s position when the vision he had started to occur that I would’ve assumed I was simply so hungry that I was starting to hallucinate. However, Peter knows this isn’t the case, and that this is a direct message from God.

Before him in his vision a sheet appeared from heaven and on it lay all the kinds of animals that his Jewish heritage has forbidden him from eating, unclean animals, reptiles and birds. And then, he’s told to kill them and eat them.

Peter’s response to this is fairly understandable considering who he is. You seriously want me to eat these animals, the ones my entire life I’ve avoided eating because they’re unclean?

The response Peter receives is a strong rebuke; don’t call these impure because God has made them clean. We are told this interaction occurred three times while Peter was in this trance and then the sheet was then taken back to heaven.

10:17-21 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”

Here, Peter has just had this vision about food and he’s questioning the things he had always assumed to be true. While he’s thinking the three men who Cornelius had sent to fetch Peter were at the gate calling for him. The Spirit told Peter (who is also called Simon) that these men had come for him and he should go with them.

Obviously Peter has no other context, he has no idea who these men are or why they’ve come for him (plus, he’s still hungry!). He asks the men who they are and why they’re there.

10:22-23a The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

These men explained who they were. You see, they knew it would be odd for a Gentile to be sending for this Jewish man, so they explained that Cornelius who sent for them was respected by Jewish people.

Peter invited the men into his house as guests, as the Spirit had already assured him they had been sent by God.

Now the cool thing here is, Peter has just received a vision about eating ‘unclean’ food (which only Gentiles were known to do, not Jews); and then who should be looking for him, but a Gentile? God was preparing Peter to go beyond his Jewish circles and also embrace Gentiles into the family of God.

To think about

Like me, do you sometimes get hangry, or at least distracted by the thought of food? Do you allow God to speak to you even in those moments where you’re so distracted?

Are there things surrounding you that perhaps you have been raised to believe are unclean or impure that God wants you to see differently? Pray today for God to open your eyes to see/hear/understand things the way He has created them.

Also, have a think about what might God be preparing you for?

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