Acts 10:9-23: God-incidences.
“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. 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 and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17 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. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” 22 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.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.”NIV UK
Some people might see a number of coincidences in chapter 10, but I see ‘God-incidences’. It is a remarkable story of the Holy Spirit preparing the very Jewish Peter to take the message about Jesus, the Messiah, to the Gentiles. Before he met with the party sent by Cornelius, God was dealing with this man’s inherent prejudices; challenging and changing them. Peter’s thinking needed to be altered if he was to be used more widely.
‘’It should be carefully noted that the mental impression which was produced by Peter’s vision was corroborated by the fact of the knocking and inquiring group at Peter’s door. This is God’s invariable method. For us all, as we contemplate taking a new and important step in life, there is the urging of the Spirit, the impression or vision of duty, and the knock or appeal of outward circumstances.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.490.
It has been correctly pointed out that a disciple cannot legitimately say, ‘’Surely not, Lord!’’ (14). You can say, ‘’Lord’’ or ‘’Surely not’’, but these words do not belong together in a true Christian. Jesus is Lord and we are not to refuse Him.
It remains the case that we should not call anyone impure whom God has made clean (15). What kind of people can we be guilty of treating as if they were somehow dirty; as though they had not been cleansed?