· A few things stick out about Cornelius. He was a gentile (non-jewish), he feared and pursued God, he prayed, and - like Dorcas in the story before – he gave generously to help the poor
· An angel spoke to Cornelius and commended him for both his prayers and his gifts to the poor
· As a result of these two things, he was to send for Peter (who was still in Joppa with Simon – specific address)
· As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius charged a few men he trusted to go find Peter and bring him back
· Right as the three trusted companions were approaching the city Peter had a vision
· Peter was on the roof praying (pray seems to be a theme in Acts)
· He fell into a trance – like a dream?
· He was hungry and the vision had to do with food
· He saw a sheet with four corners (possibly representing the four corners of the earth, meaning the entirety of the earth)
· In the sheet were all the animals of the earth including the unclean ones that Jews were not allowed to eat. The voice said Peter could eat the forbidden foods.
· Peter replied “Lord”, so it seems to indicate he thinks he is talking to Jesus
· Peter says that he hasn’t ever eaten anything unclean which is also a statement that he doesn’t plan on ever eating anything unclean.
· Jesus tells him to no longer identify those foods as unclean because he has now made them clean.
· The message was given three times – possibly to confirm it was from Jesus and not just a weird dream
· As Peter was reflecting on the vision the travelers showed up looking for him
· Then the Holy Spirit (different than the vision voice) told him to go with the men
· It seems the vision was Jesus who had the authority to change the rules that were (clean and unclean) to something new. AND the personal guidance of what to do came from the Spirit within.
· Peter met the men, heard Cornelius’ story, and then contrary to Jewish law and practice – but in alignment with the vision – invited the Gentile travelers into his home and treated them as honored guests (he treated what once was considered unclean as if it were clean)
· Peter headed for Caesarea, meanwhile Cornelius wasn’t just preparing to receive Peter just himself, but gathered his family and close friends as well!
· Cornelius wanted to give Peter special honor, but Peter let him know that he wasn’t due any(that is for Christ/God alone)
· Peter told those gathered that he normally wouldn’t of come and entered the non-Jewish home, but in essence the vision he had revealed to him that it wasn’t just animals that Christ had made clean but more importantly the people of the nations (that weren’t Jewish).
· Cornelius gives a summary of why he invited Peter and that whatever he says they are ready to hear
· Peter starts by confirming that he then understood that the good news was for all nations, without favoritism.
· His message to these Gentiles contained the following:
o Starts with a summary statement about the Good News that brings peace with God which comes from Jesus the Messiah was is Lord (King) of all
o He refers to Jesus’ ministry starting with his baptism by John
o At that time Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power
o Jesus went around doing good and healing people, especially those bound by Satan (casting out demons)
o These things were proofs that God was with him
o He testifies that these things are legitimate because they saw them with their own eyes
o He says the Jews had Jesus crucified, but that God raised him from the dead on the third day
o Again he emphasizes that there are many witnesses to this fact (though Jesus was selective in who he appeared to)
o Jesus commended the disciples then to preach (most likely the good news) and secondly that Jesus was now the one who God made judge over everyone (alive or dead)
o He lets them know that all this was prophesied way before Jesus (the Old Testament is important)
o And that whoever believe these things about Jesus will receive forgiveness from God because of Jesus
· Obviously the listening crowd believed the message right away because as soon as Peter said this the Holy Spirit entered in to them
· The Christian Jews present were amazed that these Gentiles received the same Holy Spirit they had even though they were not circumcised and did not follow the law.
· They didn’t argue about whether or not these Gentiles were accepted into the kingdom because the Holy Spirit in them proved they were accepted
· The very next step was to baptize them (this is the example in acts – believe and get baptized right away)
· God wants me to pray faithfully and give generously to the poor
· Though we want to avoid sin, sharing the gospel requires us to engage sinners
· I need to look for opportunities to expand my relationships to those that are very different than me (Muslims, Buddhists, blue collar, the poor, etc.)
· I need to listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice and ask about those he has already prepared for the good news.
· Part of the good news is that Jesus didn’t just pop on the scene but is part of God’s plan from the beginning. As well as his life, death and resurrection (which had many witnesses). Also that there is a judgment, though it now comes through Jesus and whether you know him or not.
I want to thank you for all those who spoke into my life and that you used to bring me unto yourself. I want to be that for more and more people. Please open my spiritual eyes to those who you have already stirred in. Help me not shy away from those that are different than me or that I don’t feel comfortable around. Give me a spirit of boldness and love that I might proclaim both grace and truth to those you want me to share with. Forgive me for keeping the good news to myself, and not sharing it with those who so desperately need it. Lastly Lord, would you please create in me a more generous heart. I see you love and care for the poor immensely. I want to as well, but my plans and wants stand in the way of yours. Forgive me for my greed and continue to grow me in the area of generosity, especially to the poor.
In the name of Jesus, my Lord and example, I pray. AMEN
Posted on Tue, February 17, 2015
by Joel King