Peter rise, kill, eat Acts 11

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit, amen!

We don’t observe most of the Old Testament laws and ceremonies. Why? As Luther put it, most of these were a foreshadowing of Jesus. OK, so… We have Jesus, if you want to mix the fibers of your cloth for your clothes go ahead. Peter, Paul, especially have to deal with what Luke calls the “circumcision party”. “Party” sort of the sense we have Republicans/ Democrats today. The Pharisees were a “party”, the Sadducees. As Christianity grew, different factions arose, the “circumcision party” is referred to as Judaizers by Paul. They would say sure Jesus is Messiah, but in order to progress up to Jesus; “…those Judaic Christians who insisted that Gentiles could come into the new people of God only via Judaism, i.e. by submitting to circumcision and the law of Moses…”[1] That was not a big selling feature to become a Christian! Adult men aren’t going to flock to a group that insists they be circumcised first. According to Wikipedia “The tradition that 613 commandments (Hebrew: תרי”ג מצוות, taryag mitzvot, “613 mitzvot”) is the number of mitzvot in the Torah, began in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b.”[2] All of these rules  are summarized in Jesus. Christianity is not a legalistic religion. To be a good Christian you don’t have to accept all the Jewish laws, imagine having to know 613 “laws” in your life? One could then progress from Judaism and all of the traditional law to then the understanding of Jesus. We Christians observe the law given to Moses, in the form of the Ten Commandments. “Do we suffer a witch to live”? Exodus 22:18 Today we do. Laurie Cabot was the “Official Witch of Massachusetts”. It’s interesting to note the Cabot family is a very old blue blood family of Massachusetts who would have been around at the time of the Salem witch trials. In the “odd” world of the blue blood families of Massachusetts that go back to the Mayflower and the ones who settled Boston and Salem, the Cotton Mathers, needless to say having one of their own as the “official witch of Massachusetts”? We’re talking about the “birth” of the church. There isn’t a big book of doctrine, Book of Concord, to tell them what was true, studied, examined, worked out doctrine. It can certainly make sense; this is what we’ve been doing for 3,000 years, dietary laws probably more for protection no one knew about trichinae in pork or how shell fish can harm a person. God said we would be recognized as His by our circumcision, laws about witchcraft to protect from those who try to force their way using the occult, laws such as stoning rebellious children again to protect the group. We don’t seem to get today how a person can drag a whole group down because of their faulty behavior. Families torn apart regularly by a child or spouse who insists on their way What is there about the Church of Christ that makes it that way? Jesus, He did everything for us, we don’t need to go and make sacrifices of sheep, doves, we know how to prepare food so it won’t hurt us, and if there was some symbol of sacrifice in circumcision, Jesus is now all that is necessary. Caroline Anderson sums it up: “As Christians, we are able to enter God’s presence at any time… (Heb. 4:16) because we have been redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 10:1–10). Goats and calves were not sufficient, so “he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). Jesus’s sacrifice ushered in a system whereby we don’t gain God’s affections through our attempts at righteousness. Faith in the risen Christ is all we need for unfettered access to God, who permanently views us through the lens of his Son’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21Rom. 3:21–261 Cor. 1:30).”[3] The Judaizers can debate; “Jesus sure, but, God didn’t tell us to stop circumcision, we have to keep doing it.” We have “Christian” churches today that still, essentially, teach the same things. Seventh Day Adventists, in addition to moving back to Saturday worship as the Sabbath, also have strict dietary laws and some of the orthodox and African Christian churches require circumcision. But as Jesus Himself said in our Revelation reading: “Behold, I am making all things new.” The 3,000 year old laws no longer apply. Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected for the hope and promise of eternal resurrection. From the perspective of people who held beliefs that dated back 3,000 years, laws that were given to Moses their great law-maker, laws given to him by Yahweh Himself, they would not see any reason why any of these laws would all of a sudden no longer apply. Having said that, is there a sin that Jesus didn’t die for? If I eat a spiral ham or a lobster, does that condemn me, if I take a sheep to the temple to be sacrificed will that save me? No. Even if I wanted to sacrifice a sheep, there is no temple to go to, to sacrifice. “Behold, I am making all things new…” What Jesus did was profoundly new, perhaps no one realized it until people showed up wanting to be a part of the church. Many, actually most, were Gentile believers in Jesus, not Jewish believers. While Messianic Jews were the first Christ believers, who were basically running the Christian church, they were becoming a minority. Gentiles certainly understood what Jesus was teaching, and Jesus made it abundantly clear that His disciples: “ESV Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” All nations means everyone in the whole world. There were not many Jews, the church did become dominated by Gentile believers. The Gentile Christian church in Acts was based in Antioch in Syria, while the Jewish /Christian church was in Jerusalem. Jesus’ brother James was, effectively, the bishop of Jerusalem, while he initially scoffed at the idea of his “brother” being the Messiah, he rapidly came around after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He, however, was a very faithful and observant Jew and did not see that Jesus changed anything. He led the circumcision party that criticized Peter in our reading for eating with Gentiles. John MacArthur writes: “The Jewish believes were outraged over such a blatant breach of Jewish custom. It was difficult for them to conceive that Jesus was equally Lord of Gentile believers.”[4] Ok, Jesus said for us to go to all the earth and make disciples, but He didn’t say we had to eat with them. 3,000 years of practices that said you don’t interact with non-Jews. Peter explains about what he saw in chapter 10 when the sheet with the animals came down to Peter. Pentecost was back in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit has arrived, they all know that they are guided by the Holy Spirit. Peter in Joppa, now is summoned by the Holy Spirit to go to Caesarea, which was in Israel, but was built and occupied by Romans. Peter had this vision that turns upside down the idea that they can’t eat certain things, now the Holy Spirit comes to him and says, to meet and eat with Gentiles, being faithful to the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19, the Holy Spirit says by the example of what Peter may eat, that the old laws don’t apply, Jesus has made the complete sacrifice for all things. He is called to Cornelius a Roman centurion, an important man who lives in Caesarea, “And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction.” That is, whoever Peter is guided to by the Holy Spirit, it is his responsibility to present the Gospel to them without getting tangled up in 600, man made laws, rules that are no longer valid because Jesus saves us, we are completely saved in Him and not by what have now become meaningless laws. Jesus has arrived, died was resurrected; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God loves the world, Jew and Gentile. Jesus died that the sins of the world are forgiven. All sins, but only for those who know Jesus is the Messiah, for those in His church who are baptized in the Triune God, become part of His church, eat His Body and drink His blood, hear His preached word. That was a difficult paradigm shift for people to accept, understandably, Yahweh told them one thing 3,000 years earlier. God the Son has now appeared, to be the redemption of the whole world, the sacrifice system was no longer necessary because Jesus is the ultimate complete sacrifice. Eating unclean food no longer applies because God the Holy Spirit tells us; “What God has made clean, do not call common.” God the Father has changed everything, changed it so that now it is all in Jesus and is complete in Him in this life and into the life of the everlasting resurrection.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] Roehrs Franzmann Concordia Self Study Commentary  p 112 New Testament

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/613_commandments

 

[3] https://www.imb.org/2017/12/22/jesus-made-final-sacrifice/

[4] John MacArthur  The MacArthur Bible Commentary p 1456

2 thoughts on “Peter rise, kill, eat Acts 11

  1. jennacar

    You have completely misunderstood the circumcision issue. The Jews in those assemblies were BELIEVERS that Yahshua/”Jesus” came in the flesh and died and was resurrected. But they also believed–errantly–that circumcision was salvific. Paul’s discussion is not that the Torah was not and is not valid upon believers–which it is “If you love me, keep my commandments”–but that circumcision is the sign OF belief, not the act of salvation itself.

    Not one thing in your actual bible tells you to nullify the instructions–the “torah” of the Most High. You should really look at that more closely and stop believing the “lies of the fathers” that were ginned up at Nicaea by a handful of reps from assemblies who wanted to be in Rome’s pocket.

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    1. Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church Post author

      The point is that the Law doesn’t save. Certainly that was Martin Luther’s main premise, only Jesus does. I tried to assert that we are still under the Law, no question, but the Law doesn’t save. Unfortunately there’s only so much I can do in 20 odd minutes, and I’m not really sure what else you are saying to me. But certainly Nicaea sets the essentials of our faith. Certainly the Father intended us to keep His commandments, but your quote is from John’s Gospel. I have no doubt Jesus expected us to keep the commandments, but He is the fulfillment of all the laws such as circumcision, dietary, ceremonial, we have no need of them, because He is the fulfillment. Great to hear from you God bless

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