Why do so many people get Peter’s vision upside-down and backwards?

So why is it that the story of Peter’s vision in Acts 10 & 11 seems so bewildering to so many people?

The story isn’t exactly subtle. Peter himself explicitly states What This Vision Means several times in the story itself. So how is it that so many people read this story and come away confused as to What This Vision Means? Why are so many people convinced this story is about food and dietary laws when the story itself takes such great pains to insist that it’s not about that?

The explanation for this missing-the-explanation is, I think, right there in the story itself. The story tells us that Peter’s vision was baffling and confusing: “Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen.”

He had no idea what to make of it. He had no idea what it meant. He was bewildered — possibly even so utterly bewildered that he had begun to wonder if maybe his vision had something to do with food.

And then there was a knock at the door.

Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there.

Peter goes down to greet these visitors and it is only then — only when he responds to the knock at his door — that he is able to understand the vision he was given.

As long as you refuse to answer the door, you’ll never be able to make sense of this story. As long as you refuse to answer the door, you’ll continue to be “greatly puzzled” by it. You’ll get it wrong. You may even get it so very wrong that you wind up thinking it’s about food and not about people.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

 


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