Peter Is Called to Account for What Happened
Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. Then Peter told them exactly what had happened.Acts 11:1-4
Let’s just begin with the first four verses of the next chapter. These four verses are packed with interesting stuff. Just look at the first verse and ask yourself the question, where were the apostles? Notice that Luke is deliberately vague about where they were. Remember back to our questions related to the last chapter. We concluded that we didn’t know exactly how long Peter stayed in Caesarea. But it can’t have been longer than several days because the six men who accompanied Peter were still with him (vs 12). If it was a longer time then in all probability they would have headed back to Joppa. But now they are with him in Jerusalem. My question is where are the apostles. Most of us assume they are back in Jerusalem. But why? Luke is vague about their whereabouts when the news reached them. Notice the news reached the apostles and the other believes in Judea of the results of Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ house. This was big news. Don’t assume that the apostles were in Jerusalem. Luke says the news reached them in Judea. Clearly they were not all in one place. They were scattered through the region of Judea; they were in various parts of Judea. Judging by the way the news spread in the first place it has now gone beyond Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria but only chosen ones were sent or picked up by the Spirit to other parts – I.e. Phillip and his journey into the hinterland then out to the coast. True to form as witnesses, the apostles were all over the region. We have already been told that. Don’t imagine they are huddled in Jerusalem still, waiting behind closed doors. They were out being witnesses beyond Jerusalem in Judea and Samaria.
News of what Peter had done had no doubt reached Jerusalem before he arrived there. They say that gossip spreads quickly and bad news even faster. It makes me think of something I heard a number of years ago related to the underground church in China. The churches there which are being sought by anti-Christian forces don’t advertise where they are going to meet the next Sunday. Rather they just leave it to the Spirit of God to tell everyone where it will be and the time they will meet. That is amazing but having said that it is amazing how word spreads when the Gospel is concerned and how the Spirit of God “spreads the word” Himself. He can transport Phillip by special means, He can talk in vision or prophetic word to our hearts and tell Paul to go to Straight St to meet Ananias. He can tell Cornelius to send men to Joppa to Peter and reveal which house he is in. It is all no trouble to him. Imagine just for a moment what is at the back of this story of getting the news back to the apostles and the believers in Judea when they are all over the province and not all huddled together behind locked doors in the room where we last left them.
Thinking about this makes me think of something which happened here in Auckland last weekend. I don’t have time to check with the two individuals as to whether I have permission to tell their story because I am just writing this Gem and the incident comes to mind. So I will take my courage in my two hands and believe that the Holy Spirit is prompting me to tell the story now. Julie was struggling as to whether she would carry on and do Deeper Bible 301 or not. She felt she needed time to recoup and get her thoughts together and maybe spend more time gathering the details of 201 before she launched into 301. But had been vacillating back and forth on whether to do 301 or not now. She attended a teaching series last Saturday on something totally unrelated when a woman came and sat down next to her at a break and said, “Hi, I am Indonesian.” An interesting thing to say, that and nothing more. That made Julie say, “Do you know Ian?” To which this Indonesian woman said, “Do you mean Ian Vail?” “Yes” said Julie “I have been doing Deeper Bible with Ian. He is going to start Deeper Bible 301 tomorrow.” To which this Indonesian angel said “Oh you should do 301, don’t wait. Do it now” and then left. Talk about an angelic encounter! Julie was left thinking oh my goodness, I don’t believe what just happened. This Indonesian woman appears out of the blue and gives me a message to make sure I attend the course tomorrow and then she is gone. Julie doesn’t know who the woman was but I think I do. I am sure it was Lily Mulianah. So sure that I am writing this writing little encounter up in today’s Gems. Lily has indeed done Deeper Bible to higher levels back in Jakarta and I know she has been studying here in Auckland at Elim College and is staying in Manukau City. I will bet it was Lily who sat down beside Julie to tell her something the Lord wanted her to know and then go off on her next Spirit-led assignment. It is like that in God. I will be watching my inbox after sending this Gems to see what response I get. But can you see that was the way in which events were unfolding for the early apostles and disciples from Jerusalem out to the ends of the earth. The LORD himself was orchestrating all that was happening. The news spread all over the region.
It reminds me of the comments by Cleopas and his mate on the road to Emma’s when Cleopas said, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” News of the events in Jerusalem spread like wildfire and all were talking about it. I believe much the same was happening at this time. This news too was gossiped everywhere. Especially among the Jews believers believers because as we know already it was so shocking. Not only did Peter (a leader among them) go to the house of a Gentile but he also ATE with him and his family. That was even worse. So as the saying goes, this bad news spread like wildfire. Even to each of the apostles in the places to which they had spread.
I think that is enough for you to ponder on for the moment. Time to let that little snippet sink in and ponder on the rest of the this new section. But of course there is more in just these opening four verses. Stay here a while and take in the detail in these short few opening comments.
Don’t afraid to open your mouth and tell someone that thing that you think God has just put in your mind. Perhaps that is exactly what they need to know, crazy as it may seem.Ian Vail
Many times I respond to the spontaneous thought which arises in my mind and tell someone only to have them say, “Why did you say that? That’s exactly what I asked the Lord for this morning. “Ian Vail
Being a witness requires you simply to tell what you saw or what you heard. The “what you heard” may be past or current. Really current, I.e. Just popped into your mind at that moment. Trust Him to lead.Ian Vail
And You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of earth.” Well done Lily you have done just that at the end of the earth.Ian Vail