The meeting of Cornelius and Peter was really part of God’s plan to broaden the perspective of those to whom Peter was to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember the meeting that we have been looking at over the last few weeks was really orchestrated by God in giving a very clear vision to Cornelius of what he needed to do and then also giving Peter just as clear a vision of how he should respond to those who were inviting him to go to Caesarea. We saw last week Peter’s opening comments and then we read, “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused them to be seen. 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. 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. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name,” (Acts 14:39-43 NIV). We see in this passage that our faith doesn’t rest on a fable but on fact. The gospel was fully authenticated by the united witness of 11 men who spent three incredible years in the company of the Son of God. If Peter or any of the apostles were lying the whole generation could have risen up and said so. Peter is appealing to the facts that Cornelius must have known already regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s ministry was so extensive that certainly, a Roman Centurion living in Caesarea would have heard of the amazing miracles that were happening. Peter preached about the living way that is found in Jesus Christ. The fact is that God is giving people a chance to change their minds and to come to the living Savior for forgiveness.
It is at the mention of “the forgiveness of sins” that something completely unexpected happens and something that Peter is totally amazed about. We read, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they had heard them speaking in tongues and praising God,” (Acts 10:44-46 NIV). Cornelius and Peter were very different individuals. Cornelius was a wealthy Roman Centurion and Gentile. Peter was a Jewish fisherman who had been called to become “a fisher of men”. But on this day God’s plan bought these two individuals together and a new moment in Christian history was written as the Jewish leaders of the church watched in astonishment as the Holy Spirit is poured out on Gentiles, whose hearts were open to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit interrupted Peter’s message in a big way. The gospel of Jesus Christ applied by the Holy Spirit is the thing that totally converts a heart and God often shows up suddenly and unexpectedly as He does at this moment. Peter never was able to finish the sermon that he had prepared. There was no invitation or any formal conclusion. In a dry and barren land, the Gentiles were drinking in every drop of the gospel of Jesus Christ as if it were a rainstorm in the desert. Up until this point, the Jewish believers there conceived that the gospel blessings belonged exclusively to their own nation, boy, were they in for a surprise. Whatever gifts we have we need to use them to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. Proof that Peter’s preaching was of God is found in the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit that fell at this moment. The gospel is the channel through which the divine Conqueror comes forth to set us free from the bondage of sin.
The six brothers (Acts 11:12) that were with Peter saw the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit and becoming truly born again. Remember before this adventure these Jewish brethren wouldn’t even speak to Gentiles, let alone enter their homes. Whether or not Peter was surprised by what happened his companions certainly were. It is one thing to enter the home of a Gentile and to preach to Gentiles, but to see the Holy Spirit being “poured out” on them in this amazing fashion, reminiscent of Pentecost, was something they could not have imagined. The words “poured out” in verse 45 indicates an abundance given without partiality or measure. The overwhelming experience of the Gentiles in Cornelius’s home that day was a stunning change of heart that shocked the Jewish believers who were there. Notice in verse 45 the word “gift” speaks of something that was given to honor or to bless the receiver of the gift and it highlights God’s act of giving. The outward manifestation of the sign gifts was necessary, not for the Gentiles, but for the Jews to accept the Gentiles as joint-heirs together with Jesus Christ. God is all about changing hearts and lives through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Has He changed your heart and life through Jesus Christ? If so, rejoice with great joy, praise, and adoration for what He has done. Peter, who was prepared by the Holy Spirit, prepared others to receive the Holy Spirit. To those who have been indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, there is no honey as sweet as the Word of God faithfully and accurately proclaimed. Jesus Christ, working through the Holy Spirit, is still in the heart-changing business. Let’s pray that His Spirit would move and work in our day in a unique and special way so that our world would know the true and living God who reveals Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
All for God’s Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo