By Brooke Holt
“So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34–35).
Luke recounts the life and ministry of Peter throughout this portion of Acts. And what an account it is! Peter has been the zealous disciple of the Lord—zealous in his good works and just as zealous in his sin. But Peter’s zeal has been redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Not only is Peter cleansed from all his sin, but he has even greater energy and power now that Jesus has ascended, and the Holy Spirit has descended upon his people.
But first, if you are trying to create the picture of a perfect man in Peter—stop. He was a man who was daily being made new through the Spirit. Just two days before these words of Peter, the Lord showed him a vision of a sheet coming down from heaven with all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds. With the vision came the command for Peter to “kill and eat” (see Acts 10:9–16). Being a good and faithful Jew, Peter adamantly refused to partake of these unclean animals. Again, Peter was instructed by the Lord: “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:15).
That was a new command for Peter and would lead to a new way of seeing the world outside of the constraints of the Jewish rules. As Peter spoke the words quoted above, he was in a Gentile home surrounded by Gentile people. Just a few days prior, Peter would have rendered himself unclean by these actions. Yet God had another way for Peter, for the nation of Israel, and for all his people. It was the way of unmerited grace.
People were not to be defined by race, color, gender, or even previous religious practices. Jesus broke all barriers and all partiality. There were now only two distinctions: those who trusted in Jesus and those who did not. Through the cross, believers of all people, all tribes, and all nations are called to approach the throne of grace.
Jesus broke the barriers of partiality in his day and longs to break through the many barriers of partiality today. Jesus doesn’t look at the outside of people; he looks at the heart. Why are we so fixated on the divisions between us, the things that divide us, and not on Jesus, who broke every barrier? Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). How does the thief steal, kill, and destroy God’s people? Through enmity, division, and dissension, when people cling to their own rights, ideas, and prejudices instead of Jesus.
That is not the way to abundant life. Jesus would have you consider today if you have any partiality towards his people, the people he came to save and restore. Look to the cross today and see the broken barriers. See what Jesus did for you, and then allow the Holy Spirit to do a new work in you.
Is there any form of prejudice in your life? Any ways of thinking or behaving towards others that the Lord would like to transform today? Receive the healing grace of Jesus Christ, allow it to wash you of your sin, and renew a right spirit within you today. That is the way of abundant life! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
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