Throughout Peter’s years walking with Jesus, he heard the Lord speak of the cleaning the inside of the cup. He saw Jesus hang out with sinners. He witnessed the vilest of his community saved, healed, rescued, delivered. He partnered with his Master to reach his people, his nation. And Chapter 10 was all about Jesus reprogramming Peter and his religious mindset. In the first part of chapter 11, Peter finds himself defending his actions of going to a non-Jewish person’s home. He explains his vision of the picnic basket in the sky filled with unclean animals. He continues by going to Cornelius’s house and how he witnessed the Holy Spirit fall on the Gentiles. Even the Christ-believing Jewish people could not comprehend fraternizing with someone who was so filthy. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.” Acts 11:3 NLT
You can practically hear their disgust in this verse. How could Peter do such a thing? But Pete’s defense of grace and his argument of how the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles the way it fell on his fellow believers was solid!
“And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:17 NLT
And that was that. The argument ended. How could they contest such logic? The Jewish believers spoke these words, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting. I love this line. The privilege of repenting. The gift, the honor, the opportunity for all, and any to make it right. To stand right. To become right with their maker.
Who am I to stand in God's way? I have to admit, I may have stood in His way a few times with my attitude. We have all been guilty of trying to understand our Lord's forgiveness of others. Some seem too vile or perverse to be allowed in the kingdom of righteousness. You know who I am talking about. Maybe you stand in God's way of Him forgiving you. Perhaps you stand in God's way of Him forgiving someone who wounded you or a family member. This chapter is another filtering process. There is no room for prejudiced thinking or judgmental attitudes for those who believe in the full measure of grace. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.
The chapter continues with more Gentiles converting due to Stephen's death and the scattering of believers due to the persecution driven by Saul. An injustice from a murdering Jew advanced the Gospel to the Gentiles. The end of this chapter paints a beautiful picture of grace. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith, searched for Saul and the encourager, and the redeemed teamed up to spread the Gospel even further and showing others the privilege of repenting!