Lent 2023 Day 27: Fri 24 Mar
Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. …You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, 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.
‘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, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 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.
Peter, against all religious restrictions regarding relationships with Gentiles, has come to Cornelius’ house. I expect the two men who fetched him were keen to make an early start, having spent the night with Peter at the smelly tanner’s house. It’s a thirty-mile journey to Joppa, so they’d have had to stop overnight on the way. Peter was somewhat confused by his vision, and as he journeyed with the two men, he came to realise what God was saying to him, and he could see it as it is – God no longer favours any person over another by dint of their nationality.
Cornelius is a Gentile (though much respected by the Jews) and he is also a commander in the Roman occupying forces. He is a man whom God chose as symbolic of the Gentiles, for God was about to announce through Peter that there is no reason why the Good News of Jesus could not be shared with and accepted by people outside the Jewish faith. We can look on Cornelius (and the Ethiopian eunuch) as father-figures in the faith that we have received.
God does work in amazing ways!
It was not only the Jewish authorities, but also the Romans too that were aware of this new movement of witness to the risen power of our Lord Jesus. They would have at least made a note of it as it might turn out to be an issue that would need to be dealt with.
Peter tells the truth about Jesus’ death, and diplomatically apportions the blame to the Jews, not the Romans, who were tricked by the Jewish authorities into using their death machine on Jesus. More important, of course, is that God raised Jesus to life. Peter continues to tell it as it is.
Do you tell it as it is?
Do you live it as it is?
Father God, would you reveal in me how my worship relies on my own culture and heritage. Make me ready for the day when all nations shall come and worship at your throne, I pray. Amen.