THE FINAL JIGSAW PIECE
Lord, You are in charge of who gets which gift from heaven.
Read ACTS 10:34–48
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.
- 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.
Like Cornelius and his household, we feel a sense of expectation. What does God want to say to you today?
First, Peter places the straight edges of the jigsaw, the framework within which God’s event has been revealed. He outlines what Cornelius already knows and accepts, then he begins to fill out the center: his personal testimony of the death and resurrection of Jesus, followed by the commissioning of the disciples to preach the gospel, the forgiveness of sins through the name of Jesus Christ. There’s still something missing from the presentation, however. Spontaneously, while Peter is still speaking, the Holy Spirit is poured out on all who are gathered to listen (44). This is the Gentile Pentecost, in nearly every way identical to that experienced by the first disciples (Acts 2). The picture that Peter has already come to realize (34, 35), that God’s salvation is for all humanity, Gentiles as well as Jews, is evidenced in the most dramatic way.
Peter’s entourage, circumcised Jewish believers, can only look on in astonishment. The embryonic church has been wrenched in a new direction. Nothing will ever be the same. Peter seizes the initiative, recognizing God’s move in the events that have unfolded. For him, the gift of the Spirit is the final confirmation that God has incorporated Gentile believers into His church. From his initial vision on the rooftop, through the mysterious invitation from Cornelius to meet with him, to the evidence of tongues and an outpouring of praise, this is clearly God’s work. Baptism into the church of Jesus Christ is the next step – but the issue of circumcision is already lurking in the background. The word ‘astonished’ (45) on the part of Peter’s circumcised companions contains hints not only of surprise but also of suspicion. There will be repercussions.
Have you ever been astonished by someone’s coming to faith? What astonished you? Was it the change in them, the breadth of God’s love, or your own preconceptions?
Lord, we Your Gentile bride thank You for our inclusion into the list of eligible recipients for the Holy Spirit.
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