Sometimes it’s just used as more fuel for the fire for those who want to take a shot at “impetuous Peter” as an example of what not to do. As in you don’t say, “No, Lord!” But what if you need to say “No, Lord” once in awhile in order to be ready to say “Yes” to the Spirit?
. . . [Peter] fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.”
“No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything impure and ritually unclean.”
(Acts 10:10b-14 CSB)
No, Lord! Okay, gonna admit that’s kind of an oxymoron. Will concede that stopping when you’re told by the Ruler of the universe to be starting probably isn’t the appropriate response. In fact, responding to the clear direction of the One who holds sovereign power over you, and who you have purposed to follow at all cost, with, “By no means,” is sort of a bonehead thing to do. But remember, Christ Jesus came into the world to save boneheads of whom I am chief (or something like that).
It’s not like Peter was in rebellion. Not like he wasn’t abiding in the Lord. Not like he wasn’t giving himself to prayer. Not like he had come up with some new doctrine around unclean animals and the eating of such. Nope, none of the those things. Peter’s “No Lord”, it seems to me, was born of sincere, Scripture-based conviction.
But God was about to open up a new door for the gospel. And it was such a big and radical door for Peter and other devout Jews that God needed first to “open up heaven” and drop in front of Peter a banqueting table of disgusting, forbidden animals and tell him, “Eat!”
Come on. I think we can cut Peter some slack here. Yeah, “No, Lord” wasn’t the right answer. But who was expecting that kind of command?
So, the Lord has Peter right where He wants him.
While Peter was deeply perplexed about what the vision he had seen might mean . . . While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, “Three men are here looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them.”
(Acts 10:17a, 19-20 CSB)
Peter’s paradigm, though based on revelation, is blown away by further illumination. He’s deeply perplexed. He’s deeply in thought. He’s deeply humbled and more than open to reconsidering his “No, Lord.” And so, perplexed and pondering, his heart is ready for the Spirit to speak. Thus, through a “No, Lord” Peter is readied to say, “Yes, Spirit,” and take the gospel to the Gentiles.
Now we don’t live in a day of new revelation trumping old revelation, and neither did Peter. That the promises made to Abraham would bless “all peoples on the earth” had been around since Genesis 12:3. But sometimes things are hidden. Sometimes they’re not fully understood. Sometimes you need the Lord to show you a “No, Lord” sort of thing to be ready for the Spirit to illuminate the “Yes, Lord” way to walk.
We need to be people of conviction, for sure. But we also need to be people humble enough for the Scripture to bring correction so that we might be people who grow in our commitment. We need to be open to our “No” being turned into a “Yes.”
This too, only by the grace of God. This too, only for the glory of God.
Yes, it makes sense but also could open a can of worms about understanding Gods word if those involved were listening to someone other than the Holy Spirit (including self and others). It’s probably the challenge that sends so many Christian’s to fence in their own doctrinal beliefs, often the minor things where God gives freedom. As you suggest, Peter was deeply perplexed and humbled and pondering. That’s a good thing. And the Holy Spirit pursued him, because of the major thing he had for Peters ministry to the Gentiles and understanding the freedom we have in Christ. So yes, it makes sense when we listen to the whole counsel of God, get counsel from other trusted believers and seek God with an open heart. He will answer.
I would be with Peter…”no Lord, don’t wash my feet.” This spoken out of ignorance or without much thought.
Again, I think of the the Lord’s multiple general calls to me and saying “No! I don’t “need” a Savior.”
Praise God for His providential patience and grace.