Acts 11: The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ 8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. 11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a] water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” 19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. LIVE: Peter explains that it’s OK for Christians to eat with non-Jews, something they would never have done before. More and more non-Jews start believing in Jesus, so the Christian church sends Barnabas to encourage them. The fact that God made salvation possible for people outside of Israel broke thousands of years of religious tradition. In this period, Jews would not even associate with non-Jews, who were called Gentiles. They were considered the low rung of society, cursed by God and unfit for interaction with a holy people. However, Jesus makes it clear He came to save the whole world, even those who at one time seemed unreachable (John 3:16-17). The Jews had no reason to believe Gentiles were loved by God. But Acts 11:23 says when Barnabas arrived in Antioch he saw people who had been changed by the grace of God. God was active in Antioch long before Barnabas considered making the trip. God’s saving power is not restricted by our sense of morality. God’s résumé is full of converted murderers: Moses, David, and Paul. We fit nicely on that list, too. It was our sins that crucified Jesus. Before we give up on others, remember that God didn’t give up on us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Who do you know who seems too far gone? It’s time to reach out. Reflection Questions: 1- What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you? 2- Is there anyone in your life who you believe to be too far from God? How can you reach out to that person this week? 3- Are you sharing Jesus' love with people who are far from God? If not, what stops you?