The last two mornings I have read from Acts 10, and it has been a joy to meditate on what is going on in this story.
Have you ever thought of someone you know, “They are such a great person, if only they knew Jesus!”? That is how you could think of Cornelius, the Roman centurion. Look at this guy:
Acts 10.1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.
It appears from this story that he doesn’t really know Jesus yet, but he is a God-fearer. While we don’t fully know his heart, I love what is marked in his life:
- a devout, pious man
- fears God and leads his household to do so
- piety that alters his life: he gives generously to the poor
- and he prays continually to the God of the Jews
I want to live like this, and be known for this.
And get this – God notices that Cornelius is seeking him out. He goes so far as to send an angelic messenger to him, sharing that his prayers and giving have been noticed (10:4-5). Then God goes one step further – He is going to send an apostle to clearly present the Good News to him (10:9-29).
And don’t miss this – both men will benefit from this God-created meeting. Cornelius and all his household will clearly hear the Gospel, and fully come to know the God they have been seeking. And Peter, in the telling, will learn that the Gospel is for everyone (nobody is “unclean”), and that the New Covenant found in his message radically undoes what is necessary to come to God.
In this story of evangelism (good news proclamation), both the hearer and the proclaimer are changed by God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
To God be the glory, great things he has done. I love the Gospel!