Text: Acts 10
This is a wonderful story of how God worked separately in the lives of Cornelius the Roman soldier, and Peter the apostle, to bring them together and grant a priceless gift to each of them. To Cornelius and his household the Lord gave the gift of new life in Jesus Christ. To Peter he gave the gift of a new understanding – a new realisation that this new life in Christ was for everyone, and not just for Jews like himself. And you didn’t have to become a Jew to receive it. How did Peter learn this lesson?
What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?
We can begin to imagine how Peter must have felt. v11f.
v15 – “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
v15 “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
But being a Jew like Peter didn’t just affect the food you ate. It also affected the people you associated with. Acts 10:28 “It is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him.” Strict Jews believed that God had no use for the Gentiles. Sometimes they even went the length of saying that help must not be given to a Gentile woman in childbirth, because that would only help bring another Gentile into the world.
But now it has all changed. Peter’s vision has showed him that there is no longer any distinction between clean and unclean food, and no longer any distinction between people who only eat clean food (the Jews) and those who eat unclean food (the Gentiles).
v 34 – “I now realise that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
The good news is for everyone in the whole world. It was for Peter, who had once denied that even knew Jesus. It was for Paul, who had persecuted the Christians, and watched on as they were stoned to death. It was for the Samaritans, who had had an ancient feud with the Jews. It was for Roman soldiers like Cornelius. It is for the girl in your class at school who scribbled all over your drawing last week. It is for the lady who short-changed you in the newsagents yesterday. It is for the young man next door who came home at 1.30 last night and kept his engine revving for 15 minutes. It is for…
Think about the person you dislike the most, or the person who you think is least likely to become a Christian; the person who seems farthest from the kingdom of heaven. Now say to your heavenly Father, “Father, I realise that you do not show favouritism. No-one is beyond the reach of your love. Thankyou can all can receive your gift of new life on the same terms of faith in Jesus the the crucified Saviour and risen Lord. Give me the grace to be willing to accept those whom you are willing to accept”