Sadly today our series will come to a conclusion. Thanks so much to everyone who’s joined in for the past couple of weeks, I truly hope you’ve enjoyed our time together as much as I have. And I hope those of you in Australia (besides QLD & WA) are excited for the long weekend coming up!
Today’s passage is a rather long one, so buckle up and hold-on tight, we’re in for a bumpy (but relatively fun) ride.
Acts 10:23b – 26 The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
It’s been two nights and three days since Cornelius had his encounter with the angel, and he’s been busily preparing for Peter’s arrival ever since. He’s gathered his family and close friends together in anticipation for the events which will follow.
I think this is such amazing faith on Cornelius’ behalf, it’s not exactly like his messengers had any way of communicating with him to let him know they’d found Peter. Cornelius fully trusts that the angel he encountered was a messenger from God, and that Peter is a man sent to him directly from God.
Peter is quick to ensure Cornelius is aware of his mortality, and does not view him as some kind of God or sovereign power. This is Peter’s humility setting in, he needs Cornelius’ and all those who have gathered to know he is purely God’s messenger, not God himself.
10:27-29 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
Remember the vision Peter had yesterday of all the unclean animals? This was what prepared him for this encounter with Cornelius’. Culturally a Jew would not pay a visit to a Gentiles’ home, but God has defied cultural expectations and told Peter that the message and hope of Salvation of Jesus Christ is for everyone, that all have been made clean in God’s sight.
10:30-38 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Cornelius here recounts the story from three days ago when the angel appeared to him. This would have cleared up a few things for Peter, and also confirmed form him that the message he received from God was certainly in preparation for this very encounter.
Can you sense the excitement in Peter’s voice as he realises and unpacks what God has been telling him? It’s like this encounter is where he finally gets it, Jesus didn’t just come to save the Jews, he came to save everyone! The God of Israel is also the God of the entire world.
Peter’s excitement continues as he begins to explain to those in the house about the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
10:39-43 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Peter has just shared the gospel message with this house, and told them everything that he and the apostles witnessed when Christ was with them. He has testified that he has risen from the dead and has power over death and offers forgiveness of sins.
10:44-48 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
And here we have it folks – the first record of Gentile’s receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. What an incredible thing for Peter to witness, and how amazing that God has poured out his power in such an incredible way.
Peter then realises that these Gentile’s are now also a part of the family of God, and so should be baptised as a symbol of their place in the family. They believed and were baptised in the name of Jesus!!
To think about
Who do you relate to more in this story? Are you Cornelius, eagerly anticipating God’s messages for you? Or perhaps you’re Peter, a humble servant called to deliver God’s message. Whoever you are, and wherever you find yourself, pray for the Spirit to speak to you and get excited about the messages of hope and salvation from God. Messages about Jesus who came to save the whole world.
What state is your faith in? If you’ve heard a message from God, do you wait in eager anticipation, or do you have doubts? We need to be discerning of God’s word in our lives, but we also need to be open to encounters with the Spirit and the messages of hope that we may receive. We also need to be eager to share and testify to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Have you seen the Spirit poured out to those who receive the truth of Jesus?