Don’t you hate it when someone jumps to the wrong conclusion?! They completely misunderstood the situation and get upset with you leaving you like, “Dude, that’s not even what happened.” Peter found himself in that situation. All he did was obey the Lord, but in the process he broke with Jewish tradition and belief. Suddenly his fellow believers were a bit critical.
Acts 11:2-4 (NLT) But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. 3 “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.
4 Then Peter told them exactly what had happened.
Notice the explanation point. They weren’t happy with Peter and they immediately jump to conclusions. That’s a tough spot to be in. A lot of us would immediately get defensive and start arguing back. I think it’s human nature. When someone gets a bit of an attitude towards us, or accuses us of doing wrong, there is this thing that wells up inside of us. We have this need to prove we are in the right.
Peter doesn’t do that, he simply tells them exactly what happened. What did happen? A group of men had come from Caesarea and The Lord had led Peter to go in with them, never minding that they were gentiles. There was a man there who was hungry for the truth and the Lord had instructed him to send for Peter. He had assembled his whole family to listen to the words of Peter and as Peter began to tell them about Jesus the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he had fallen on the Jews.
Now they knew the whole story.
Acts 11:17-18 (NLT) “…And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”
18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
We are often guilty of the same thing. We criticize information before we know the whole story. We would be wise to listen the people first and coming to a conclusion later. Praise God they listened to Peter’s story. I’m so grateful that they recognized the truth of what happened and they began to Praise God! For salvation had not only come to the Jews, but to all who call on the name of Jesus.
We further see this truth demonstrated in the next verses.
Acts 11:19-21 (NLT) Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews.20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
This is the results of what seemed to be bad, the scattering of the believers under persecution, but truthfully was God orchestrating the expansion of the Gospel. The truth of Jesus was even spreading to non Jewish people like me, the gentiles and the church was growing! Of course the Jewish believers were still a little skeptical of other people coming to Christ so they send Barnabas to investigate.
Acts 11:22-23 (NLT) When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
Barnabas saw God’s blessing and he was filled with joy! He encouraged the believers to stay faithful to God. Can I tell you I rejoice also! These are the first moments of gentiles coming into God’s grace and into relationship with the Lord. I rejoice because as a gentile I too can repent and receive eternal life!
The whole story is that Jesus came to save all men and women. It is His will that none shall be lost, but that all would hear of the saving power of Jesus and turn from their sin. Too often we are content in our churches to have our services, but we don’t always think of those who don’t yet know. Church, we must remember that God is not done reaching the lost. He is not done showing His power to the world. Let’s take the great story of Jesus and the work He has done in our lives to the world so that all might be saved!