Reading For Tuesday Acts 10:1-48
The movement of the gospel is making powerful connections with people and areas that included generational, geographic, and cultural barriers. The gospel is making a move to the Gentiles. Cornelius is a Roman centurion, stationed at Caesarea. He is what the Jews call a "God-fearer." He believes in God, prays regularly and tries to live a good and generous life. One day while he is praying, an angel appears to him. Seized with terror, Cornelius asks about the nature of the visit and the angel tells him to send for Peter. Peter is in Joppa, staying with a tanner named Simon. Tanners were often outcasts because their vocation required contact with the carcasses of dead animals, which made them ceremonially unclean. Cornelius complies, sending a devout soldier and two servants.
While these men are making the journey, Peter prays on the roof and is hungry. He fell into a trance and sees a great sheet descending full of unclean animals that the Jewish law forbid him to eat. While he looks at this incredible sight, a voice says, "Kill and eat." Peter declares that he has not eaten things unclean. The vision is repeated twice and each time with the same message, namely don't call it unclean because the Lord has made it clean. As Peter thinks this over, the messengers from Cornelius arrive at the gate. Peter has also learned the same concerning certain people. He was not to mix with Gentiles because they were unclean as well. He should not enter their homes or share a meal with a Gentile. However, Peter goes with the messengers to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, and it is there that he crosses into the Gentile world.
Luke shows us how God directs both Cornelius and Peter and the Gospel breaks down one of the greatest barriers of the day. The prejudice and racial hatred between Jews and Gentiles were intense. Peter comes to the understanding that God is for everyone. When Peter arrives, Cornelius falls down to worship, and Peter lifts him up. He should not receive worship for he too was a man. Peter speaks to Cornelius as well as his family and friends. Peter explains what God is showing him concerning the gospel– it is for everyone. Peter speaks to them about Jesus, his life, and death. He explains that God raised Jesus and made him judge of all and that it is through Jesus that people can be forgiven their sins. This is a great relief to Cornelius, who has worked very hard to get right with God. As Peter speaks, the Holy Spirit comes upon everyone listening and the place was filled with the sound of Gentiles praising God in strange tongues similar to the way that the apostles had done on the Day of Pentecost. Peter does not hesitate, and he baptizes them all.
Things To Consider:
- Why is the ministry to the Gentiles so important for the early church?
- What other person in scripture was sent to Gentiles but fled to Joppa?
- Why is it significant that Cornelius was sent to Peter?
- Why was this so difficult for Peter to understand?
- Do we receive worship? How?
- What were the components of the gospel that Peter shared?
- Why did Peter direct them to baptism after the Holy Spirit came upon them?
- How does this inform our baptism practices?