Read Acts 9:32-10:48
To Peter, Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19) In other words, Peter was to play a key role in the unfolding plan of God that would propel the gospel expansion in the first century.
As a result, God used Peter on the Day of Pentecost to use his keys to open the door to Jews as he preached Christ in Acts 2. God used him as the holder of the keys to convey the Spirit of God to Samaritans who were despised as half-breed Jews in Acts 8. God used him to heal the lame and bedridden and even to raise a dead woman in Acts 3 and 9.
But there was one key Peter was reluctant to use…one door he refused to open. Clearly, Jews, as the chosen people of God, were the rightful recipients of the gospel. Apparently, Samaritans, with their legacy that extended into Jewish roots, were among the people that God wanted to reach? But Gentiles? The “ethnos?” It’s true, Jesus had used that Greek word in the Great Commission. They were to “make disciples of all ‘ethnos…’” But did the Lord really mean it? His Jewish background had taught him that they were to be avoided. They were the heathen. He was to separate himself from them. And even if Jesus had meant it, somebody else could do it, right?
Will you allow me to push pause here and ask you if there are types or groups of people for whom you have no gospel compassion? Are there people that you have written off or separated yourself from? Are there people whose eternal destiny doesn’t even cause a smidgen of concern in your heart? If so, perhaps you need to go back and read Peter’s vision, conclusion, and action.
- His vision communicated responsibility for those he had avoided.
- His conclusion was that God shows no partiality…why should he?
- His action was one of being personally involved in reaching the very people he had written off.