Send Me Peter, 3of3, Pastor Phil Sessa

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Mark 7:19, “All too well you reject (set aside) the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” 

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How hungry are you spiritually? Are you driven to the Lord to fill that hunger?

Now go back to that rooftop with me, where Peter is meeting with the Lord by a vision, and the Lord is again trying to teach Peter at a pivotal moment when Peter is in prayer and is hungry, about the sustenance of true hunger. There were all kinds of four-footed animals both clean and unclean animals. To keep the Israelites separate from their idolatrous neighbors, God set specific dietary restrictions regarding the consumption of such animals (cf. Leviticus 11:25, 26) (v.12). He tells him to eat what is traditionally unclean for Jewish people to eat. Yet He is touching on a much greater truth in this account, and the bigger picture is not about the food itself, but rather the nourishment that comes from feeding hungry people, which are starved of spiritual nourishment because they have not partaken of the Gospel.

The fully Gentile people like the half Gentile women at the well, were part of the harvest that the Lord desired. This is why Jesus said, “What God has cleansed you must not call common. John MacArthur points out, “More than just abolishing the OT dietary restrictions, God made unity possible in the church of both Jews, symbolized by the clean animals, and Gentiles, symbolized by the unclean animals, through the comprehensive sacrificial death of Christ. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing (John 15), and apart from Him “We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)…” Was the woman at the well really any filthier than Peter when Christ found him? Are fishermen more spiritually pure than adulterous women? Were the Gentiles really any more unclean than Peter apart from the Gospel? Our spiritual cleanliness is not contingent to our outward façade, ethnicity or culture.

Our ethnicity and culture must take a back seat when it attempts to create a roadblock for the Gospel and hence obeying Christ. Jesus Christ transcends culture! This is why unlike the religion of Islam, which is a cultural religion, and other world religions, Christianity cuts across cultural boundary lines, because Christ died for the sin of the world. Jesus will not compromise on this issue and please recall the words He spoke to the Pharisees that were saturated in this thinking when “He said to them, “All too well you reject (set aside) the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition”, (Mark 7:19). They should have set aside their traditions to keep the Word of God so as to please God, but instead they had things done in reverse.

It is important to note where this interaction between Peter and the Lord took place. Peter was at Simon the tanner’s house, who was also a Gentile. John MacArthur states, “Peter breaks down a cultural barrier by staying with a tanner, which is an occupation despised by Jewish society because tanners dealt with the skins of dead animals. The local synagogue probably shunned Simon.” Yet he didn’t always seem to be able to make this transition so easily.

Christ loved His Father and wanted Peter to glorify His Father. Unlike the mindset of the Pharisees which clung to tradition, He refused to allow Peter’s Jewish ethnicity and cultural mindset to get in the way of the Gospel going forth and thus God being glorified through Peter’s life. Jesus was pushing Peter through his prejudice issue as this was a struggle in his life, because something bigger than Peter is at stake, the Gospel is at stake. Even the Apostle Paul had to put Peter in his place over virtually this same issue, withstanding Peter to his very face (Galatians 2:11)! Peter was guilty of sin by aligning himself with men he knew to be in error and because of the harm and confusion he caused his Gentile brethren. Unfortunately, Peter was affirming the very dietary restrictions he knew God had abolished (Acts 10:15) and thus striking a blow at the gospel of grace (MacArthur Study Bible). By Pastor Phil

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