A DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS

Opening Prayer

Lord God, thank you for the work of your Spirit in my life. Please continue to lead me into truth.

Read ACTS 10:23b–48

23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

Peter at Cornelius’s House

The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 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. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

30 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 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 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.’ 33 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.”

34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 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. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 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.

39 “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, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 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. 42 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. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[a] and praising God.

Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 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.

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Footnotes

  1. Acts 10:46 Or other languages

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

May we learn from Peter’s example and always be open to new knowledge of God.

Think Further

The third act in our drama has the title Peter’s Second Conversion. This is a most wonderful text, a key turning point in Luke’s story. Soon, Paul will take center stage, but first Peter has a crucial role in breaking new ground and will experience dramatic change within himself.

Consider the two main players in this drama. First, Cornelius, who becomes an evangelist before he has heard Peter’s message, assembling a ‘large gathering of people’ (v. 27) all eager ‘to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us’ (v. 33). However, before that message can be delivered, the Roman centurion is rather curtly told not to regard his guest preacher with any special honor (vv. 25, 26). The background here is the pagan world in which gods were believed to appear on earth in human form: Peter’s words were designed to avoid any misunderstanding.1 Christian missionaries, especially from technologically advanced societies, have often needed to tell their hearers (and to remind themselves), ‘I am only human myself; God is the only one worthy of worship.’

Second, Peter is the evangelist, but also a humble learner who is discovering previously undreamed-of dimensions of God’s grace. Repeatedly in this story, the apostle confesses his previous ignorance, culminating in the admission: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism’ (v. 34, italics added). Cross-cultural mission always demands such humility and openness to fresh discoveries of the richness of divine grace. Notice, finally, that the Spirit fell upon the audience before Peter had finished his message (v. 44), perhaps to demonstrate that nothing was required other than faith from the gentile converts who now flooded into the kingdom.

Apply

How might you end the sentence: ‘I now realize how true it is that God…’?

Closing prayer

Thank you, Jesus, for my life’s story. Because, through faith, you have made me a part of your story, mine is filled with blessing and joy and hope.

Last Updated on June 18, 2024 by kingstar

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