Thursday, April 01, 2010

Enjoy Your Ham

Acts 10:15 And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has made clean, do not call common." 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

15 καὶ φωνὴ πάλιν ἐκ δευτέρου πρὸς αὐτόν· ἃ ὁ θεὸς ἐκαθάρισεν, σὺ μὴ κοίνου. 16  τοῦτο δὲ ἐγένετο ἐπὶ τρίς καὶ εὐθὺς ἀνελήμφθη τὸ σκεῦος εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν.

This passage comes at the end of a vision that really shocked Peter.  He saw a sheet descend from heaven with all kinds of animals on it.  A voice told him to go, kill, and eat.  This astounded Peter because he was a devout Jew.  He would not even think of eating ham, for example.  The Law strictly forbade it and that was enough for him.  Yet here we see that God made all foods clean.  I might even translate ἃ ὁ θεὸς ἐκαθάρισεν very literally as "what God cleansed."  The verb ἐκαθάρισεν is a third-person aorist indicative.  That means that there was some undefined time that God cleansed all things, but that it certainly did happen.

On one hand, this passage is great because it gives us the liberty to enjoy ham this Easter.  I don't know for sure, but I suspect that one of the reasons why ham is such a traditional Easter food is because it shows us the liberty we have in Christ.  On the other hand, I was able to find a site that says it has pagan roots.  Either way, it is a very tasty food and we can enjoy it with full liberty because we are not under the Law.

I think that this passage goes beyond salted meats though.  The chapter goes on to describe Peter's encounter with Cornelius, a gentile centurion.  The Lord also appeared to Cornelius in a vision and that brought the two together.  He sent Cornelius to the house where Peter was staying and this vision from the Lord prepared Peter to have an encounter with an unclean gentile.  Thus began the gospel ministry to the gentiles.

As a gentile I rejoice in this fact.  Christ's death made me clean.  I can enjoy fellowship with God because of Christ's life, death, burial, and resurrection.  Think about this on Sunday as you sit down to enjoy food that Moses declared to be unclean.

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