the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. and he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. in it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. and there came a voice to him: “rise, peter; kill and eat.” But peter said, “by no means, Lord; for i have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” and the voice came to him again a second time, “what God has made clean, do not call common.” this happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. [acts 10:9-16]


peter has an experience that he finds puzzling at the least and even abhorrent, as he is a jew who has never eaten any unclean thing. he finds it so disgraceful that he would entertain the thought of eating unclean foods that he tells God “no”, and more than once (as is his pattern)!


but God demands obedience, even when we do not understand.

for my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

for as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts. [isaiah 55:8-9]


what do we make of this apparent conflict–God instituted laws for jews like peter to follow carefully, but now, God is telling peter to eat what has previously been dubbed unclean–is the old law null and void? 

by no means!


Jesus tells us–and told peter face-to-face:

“do not think that i have come to abolish the law or the prophets; i have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. for truly, i say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” [mattthew 5:17-18]


see how the apparent conflict is resolves in acts 10:15:

and the voice came to him again a second time, “what God has made clean, do not call common.” [acts 10:15]


God, by Jesus Christ’s blood in the new covenant makes the food clean. it isn’t that we do not have to adhere to the dietary laws, or that they were pointless–it is that the dietary laws were meant to point to God’s holiness, to set apart a people for himself–and now that Jesus Christ has come, he has made all food clean, as believers in Jesus we are now set apart because of who we give thanks, honor and glory to in the eating and drinking…and everything else:

so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God [1 corinthians 10:31]


let us praise God for the purifying and cleansing blood of the Lamb, Jesus!


~ ce