Acts 10 (12 Jan 2020)

Acts 10

  • Change – the constant in our lives.
    • Ageing at the same rate 
    • Disruptive, perhaps chaotic, even traumatic
    • Leads to learning
  • In Acts 10 we find the Apostle Peter coping with change
    • One day he is earning his living catching fish then is called to fish for men
    • He followed Jesus for 3 years and learned from him
    • Then failed to support him at his trial before Pilate
    • Despite all the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist and Jesus himself telling him what to expect he had to cope with the unexpected: the crucifixion.
    • A resurrection is not an everyday event – neither is an ascension
    • Now he is loaded with great responsibility
  • But there was more to come: Acts 10:9-18
    • Three times he was confronted with a vision of a sheet with all kinds of sources of food of the kinds the old law – eg in Leviticus – Jews were forbidden to eat
    • Three times the Lord told him to “get up, Peter, kill and eat”
    • Three times Peter protested, three times he was told “do not call anything impure that God has made clean”
    • So what happened to the old Jewish laws? Are they all now redundant? A big question to all the first Christians who were, of course, Jews first.
    • Avoiding the interesting theology this leads to try this simple view:
      • No one gets to be good enough for God by keeping laws and rules – every attempt ends in failure
      • To make it clearer: Jesus raised the standards
      • Even though we keep the commandment “do not kill” that does not make us good enough for the Kingdom of Heaven. Keeping such commandments does not make us good enough for God.
      • But that does not mean God could care less whether or not we kill people. In fact he does not even want us to hate people. Jesus said that if you hate someone that’s as bad as killing them then goes even further: love our enemies
      • The Old Testament teachers and lawyers had interpreted and reinterpreted the laws until they had all but lost their meaning
      • Keeping laws and following Jesus’ teaching does not make us good enough for God; we do that just because it is good to do so. We are not saved by doing good things but we are saved so that we can do good things!
    • Peter had to cope with what was to him a shocking change.  We can’t change or dispose of Bible teaching just because it suits us – Peter had a change which the Lord underlined for him by repeating the message three times.
    • Peter needed to learn this message because right then he had visitors.
  • Acts 10:17-33
    • A Godly gentile centurion had an angelic messenger telling him to talk with Peter, so he invited Peter to come and talk.
    • Now, here was another rule change: “it is against the Jewish law for a Jew to associate with or visit a gentile.”
    • But God had just shown Peter that this rule, too, had been over-ruled by the laws of love, mercy and grace. So he did as he had been asked and addressed Cornelius the centurion, his relatives and household.
  • Acts 10:34-43
    • Peter starts with the lesson he just learned: “God does not show favouritism”.  He accepts anyone of any kind from any nation who shows God the honour, respect, awe and submission God deserves. 
    • He talks in terms of people who “fear” God but not because God is frightening but because he deserves our respect. It is a response not of fright but of faith.
    • He moves on from a recently learned lesson to a message that was already well-known to anyone who knew the books of what we call the Old Testament and certainly anyone up with current affairs of the time: “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”
    • It began in Galilee after the baptism that John preached
    • God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power
    • He went around doing good and healing people, people who were under the power of the devil
    • He did these things because God was with him
    • Now, these are real events, things that actually happened – we saw it for ourselves 
    • So they killed him by hanging him on a cross.
    • That didn’t stop him because God raised him from the dead on the third day.
    • And that’s another fact – and there are people who saw the resurrected Jesus
    • More: some of us ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
    • He gave us the job of preaching to people, of testifying that Jesus is the one and only one appointed by God to be the judge of everyone – the living and the dead.
    • All through the Old Testament there are the prophecies telling about all this
    • So the message is, “everyone who believes in him received forgiveness of sins through his name.”
  • Acts 10:44-48
    • Then something very important happened: “while Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.”
    • Whenever we share the gospel with people we must be praying that the Holy Spirit will let them understand and respond to it.
    • More: when we read the Bible we need the Holy Spirit to make it clear to us 
  • Conclusion
    • For many years we have all lived with change.
    • Change usually surprises us yet it should not: we know there will be change and we should expect to learn from it.
    • But there is one constant in the universe above all else: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8
    • And the good news about him does not change; there is only one Gospel message.
    • Peter told it to Cornelius and his household.  Could you tell it to someone who wants to know?
    • We should all be able to tell people these wonderful facts.
    • As we do bear in mind that telling people this gospel means we are doing what Jesus told us to do.
    • But if it is going to make a difference to our hearers it is going to be because the Holy Spirit comes on them – so we pray for that to happen.
    • Having just heard about the events in Acts 10, having just heard again 
    • About “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”
    • Him whom they killed him by hanging him on a cross.
    • The one God raised from the dead.
    • Jesus is the one and only one appointed by God to be the judge of everyone living and the dead.
    • The message is, “everyone who believes in him received forgiveness of sins through his name.”
    • Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to come on us as we hear this gospel and use it to change us the way he wants us to go.

Bellingen Uniting Church 12 Jan 2020