Part 2 Meet Peter
When we left off Cornelius had sent his men to Joppa to find Simon Peter. While they are traveling, Peter has his own vision.
It’s about noon and Peter is praying while he is waiting for lunch to be prepared. In his vision, three times he sees a cloth full of all kinds of animals drop from heaven and a voice tells him to kill and eat. Each time Peter refuses because the food is considered “unclean” by Jewish standards. The heavenly voice replies “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (I am thinking of the controversial things that divide people – how is God asking me to be in those tense situations?)
Peter is perplexed, as you might imagine, and trying to think this whole thing through when Cornelius’ people show up. Then the Spirit tells him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” Peter is clear this is God speaking to him, so he meets the men and hears the story from Cornelius’ end. He must have been blown away! There was no way God was not orchestrating this!
Next day Peter and some brothers accompany Cornelius’s men back to Caesarea. At this point nobody really knows what exactly to expect but they know God is in it. Right off Peter sets the record straight: He is just a man and not to be worshipped. Secondly, as a Jew he would normally not be in a foreigner’s home BUT God has told him not to call any person unclean so here he is. (I guess the dream meaning began to make sense once he saw what he was being asked to do.)
(Let me pause to say, God is clearly in the business of taking down walls not instituting them. This might be a good principal to keep in mind when evaluating how to respond in certain situations – especially ones that might make me uncomfortable. A wall that blocks someone’s way to Jesus has got to go!)
You gotta love Cornelius. He is totally prepared for Peter’s coming. He has gathered his entire family and a few 100 close friends to hear what Peter has to say. Not only that, but he believes and encourages Peter, “we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
Peter knows the message by heart: “everyone who believes in him [Jesus} receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” And just in case anyone was still wondering, the Holy Spirit falls on all who heard the word! This was definitely for the benefit of the circumcised believers who were with Peter. And Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. With all the excitement and new stuff happening Peter is invited to stick around a few days – no doubt!
Bingo! Christianity comes to the Gentiles. (Church planters of today would call this strategic planning. Think about it from that angle. God arranges an unlikely meeting to connect some of His key people. There is a sudden explosion of new converts among a high level Roman army family, sitting right in a widely used and beautiful harbor city – a gateway of travel and commerce thanks to His use of the Roman Empire. There is some top level follow up and then people go on their way from there…taking the Good News with them!)
But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. Ps. 33:11 NLT
Be a doorway, not a wall.
About the World?
God’s message has come. Somebody you know already knows it. Ask around.