Is the gospel for anyone?
Are your hands clean? How often have we asked that over the past few years! There's nothing worse than watching someone walk out of the public toilets not washing their hands. Yuk!
The apostle Peter gets a vision in chapter 10 from God about clean and unclean foods. It doesn't look like a big deal for us, but it really WAS a big deal at the time.
9About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”14“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”15The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
As a law-abiding Jew, Peter had never eaten unclean animals. The Old Testament laws made very clear which foods could be eaten and which could not. He had spent his whole life avoiding certain animals. How could he now eat them?!
But this wasn't actually about food.
It was about gentiles. You see, Gentiles were considered "unclean" people because they ate these sorts of foods. And so a Jew could not even associate with a Gentile. When Peter goes to see Cornelius, he says this:
28He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile.
But God had changed the ball game. God had opened the door not just for these "unclean" foods, but for these "unclean" people. The message for Peter was: the gospel is for every person. The Old Covenant divisions no longer exist! And now Peter understands:
34Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before the doors were open to all people. Acts 1:8 reminds us that the gospel was to go to Jerusalem (the Jews), then Judea and Samaria (all of Israel), then to the ends of the earth - the Gentiles - and this is the time. The door is now open.
This is what was prophesied to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) - that God would eventually use his people to invite all nations into his kingdom. It was difficult for Peter to understand this at first. But he accepted it and at the end of chapter 10, he even baptises Gentile believers.
Are there times you have ever thought that the gospel is not for certain people? Acts 10 reminds us that NO ONE is excluded from accepting Jesus as King and entering the kingdom of heaven. But perhaps sometimes we have written off certain people. Perhaps there are some people we think are not worthy of the gospel, or not worthy of sharing the gospel with. This passage reminds us that God opened the floodgates for ALL people. God wants all people to be saved.
Have you given up sharing the gospel with someone?
Are there people you think are not worth the effort?
Why not start now by praying for them, and ask God to give you an opportunity to share the gospel with them soon.
Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing the gospel of Jesus to me so I can enjoy salvation and eternal life with you. Please help me to share this gospel of grace and life with those around me. Especially today I pray for...