Lord, I will follow Your orders, even when they make no sense to me.
Read ACTS 10:23b–33
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.”
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.
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope’ (Jer 29:11, ESV).
Dramatic, instantaneous conversions like that of Saul are rare. For most of us there was a process in our coming to know God, and we find ourselves at the heart of such a process now. Cornelius is expectant, following the word from the angel. Peter is intrigued, still taking on board the revolutionary message that God has countermanded Jewish law about consorting with Gentiles. Both have invited family or friends to accompany them to an enigmatic appointment. For Cornelius, it is so that his household may share the anticipation and the revelation. For Peter, there’s probably a desire for an element of moral support as he explores unknown territory.
God’s presence is vibrantly evident in the situation, but nothing is clear. Cornelius displays misplaced reverence as he falls at the feet of the man, Peter. Peter asks Cornelius the question, ‘May I ask why you sent for me?’ (29). They both know that something very special is taking place, the momentum is there, but to what end is as yet uncertain.
Rock climbing requires both confidence in the climber’s ability and equipment, plus the readiness to step out into the unknown. Will the friction of rubber on rock support my foot? Is that handhold secure? If I come off, will the rope take my weight? Cornelius seems to have the confidence, empowered by following the simple directions of the angel. Peter is the one taking the risks. By entering Cornelius’ house he has compromised a lifelong understanding of religious segregation. What will be the consequences, both immediately and when he reports back to church central in Jerusalem? The passage leaves us on a knife edge of expectation. A true cliffhanger!
Consider where in your life of faith God might want you to step or reach out into the unknown.
Lord, we understand that there are times when You must overhaul our theology on some things. Keep us open to correction.
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