Acts 11:1-18, New International Reader's Version
Peter Explains His Actions
11The apostles and the believers all through Judea heard that Gentiles had also received God’s word. 2Peter went up to Jerusalem. There the Jewish believers found fault with him. 3They said, “You went into the house of Gentiles. You ate with them.”
4Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story. 5“I was in the city of Joppa praying,” he said. “There I had a vision. I saw something that looked like a large sheet. It was being let down from heaven by its four corners. It came down to where I was. 6I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth. There were also wild animals, reptiles and birds. 7Then I heard a voice speaking to me. ‘Get up, Peter,’ the voice said. ‘Kill and eat.’
8“I replied, ‘No, Lord! I will not! Nothing that is not pure and “clean” has ever entered my mouth.’
9“A second time the voice spoke from heaven. The voice said, ‘Do not say anything is not pure that God has made “clean.” ’ 10This happened three times. Then the sheet was pulled up into heaven.
11“Just then three men stopped at the house where I was staying. They had been sent to me from Caesarea. 12The Holy Spirit told me not to let anything keep me from going with them. These six brothers here went with me. We entered the man’s house. 13He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house. The angel said, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon Peter. 14He has a message to bring to you. You and your whole family will be saved through it.’
15“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them. He came just as he had come on us at the beginning. 16Then I remembered the Lord’s words. ‘John baptized with water,’ he had said. ‘But you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17God gave them the same gift he gave those of us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. So who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
18When they heard this, they didn’t object anymore. They praised God. They said, “So then, God has allowed even Gentiles to turn away from their sins. He did this so that they could live.”
Either a small plastic animal or a sticker of an animal for each child.
How many of you have been to the zoo? Have you seen animals with four legs? What about animals that walk around on two legs? Are there animals that have no legs? (Allow children to respond.) Today’s Bible scripture is about Peter. Remember him? He is the disciple who said he didn’t know Jesus three times in one night but was forgiven. In the book of Acts, Peter worked hard for the early church.
Some people were treating Peter badly and were upset with him because he was hanging out with who they thought were the wrong sort of crowd. Back in the days of the early church, there were a lot of rules. They had rules for what to wear, whom to talk to, things they could or could not eat, places to go. They had rules for everything. Do you have a lot of rules you must follow in your life? What is one rule you must follow? (Allow children to answer.)
Some leaders approached Peter because they thought he was being disobedient because he was talking with people who were not following the Jewish rules. Peter told them about something that had just happened to him. He had been praying on the roof and had seen a vision. In it, many kinds of animals were coming down, and a voice told Peter to go ahead and eat them! Well, these were the animals that Peter knew the Jewish people weren’t supposed to have, so he thought it was a little strange and confusing. So he kept praying, but it happened again!
Maybe he was just hungry? (Hand out animals/stickers to each child.)
Then it happened for a third time! He had this vision and heard the voice three times. Peter had some visitors who wanted to know more about Jesus.
Peter realized that God wanted them to know the good news of the gospel is for everyone! God’s love was for more than just the Jewish people. Peter was explaining that the message of God’s love and grace needed to be shared with everyone.
Each of you has an animal (or sticker of animal) to remind you of Peter’s visions. Let this be a reminder this week to tell others about Jesus. It doesn’t matter if the other person looks like you or not. It doesn’t matter if the person is a rule follower or not. It doesn’t matter what that person eats for dinner each day. What matters is that EVERYONE needs to hear about the love that Jesus has for him or her. Do your part this week and “show and tell.”
God of love: Thank you for showing us love throughout the stories in our Bible. Thank you for showing us love as well. Give us the opportunity to share the love you have for others. Give us the strength to show others your love as we tell them about you. Help us to understand and to do that this week. In Jesus’ name of love. Amen.