Daily Bible Reading: 1 Kings 3-5, Luke 20:1-26
Today’s reading in “The Story” is found in your book starting with the transition near the top of page 401 (chapter 28) and ends before the transition on page 403 with the words, “…impure or unclean.”
If you do not have “The Story” you may read the passages in the NIV Bible: Acts 10:1-28.
What an interesting story we have today in our reading! Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, a member of the Italian Regiment living and keeping the peace in a Jewish community in Caesarea asks to hear the Gospel message from Peter. What an odd thing this was for that time. Jews did not associate with Gentiles, and they certainly were no fans of the Roman government or its official who lived in their midst. But this man of influence requested to hear the Gospel.
A big reason why this is remarkable is that up until this point in the young history of the early Christian Church, only Paul had been the Apostle to the Gentiles. Prior to this, the original disciples had been only reaching out within the Jewish population, primarily around Jerusalem and its vicinity. But here we see an instance of God forcing the issue with His followers, and providing a catalyst for the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles that Jesus had charged them with during the Great commission of Matthew 28.
God provided Peter with a vision that further clarified that the dietary laws did not pertain to properly following God’s will and to the spread of the Gospel. He made it clear to Peter that He had now made the food of the Gentiles clean. More importantly, He had made the Gentiles acceptable to receive the Gospel.
The culture of Judaism was so ingrained in the disciples, that they were having a difficult time leaving their associations with other Jews, so they could spread the Gospel to the ENTIRE world, as Jesus had instructed. God had to use the vision of the sheet coming down from heaven that was filled with all kinds of non-kosher animals and foods to make His point clear to Peter that he and the apostles needed to expand their reach and spread the Gospel to all the world, including the Gentiles.
Cornelius was one of the first in a long line of Gentiles who later heard the word of the Gospel from the mouth of Peter, and then the other apostles.
What a wonderful message that is for most of us who are reading this message today! Most of us are not God’s original Chosen People. Most of us are not Jews. But thanks be to God, that He told the apostles not to make any distinction. h told them to share the Gospel with the Gentiles, starting with Cornelius and his household.
Even as Gentile believers we sometime want to make distinctions about with whom we should share the Gospel. But God doesn’t want us to make distinctions, either. He wants us to share the Good News of the Gospel with ALL people! Let’s try to share Jesus with someone we don’t usually talk to today. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words and to open their heart to hear and believe the Gospel that you share.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, open the hearts of all whom I touch who do not know Jesus. Help them to hear from me the good news of their salvation through Jesus Christ. Amen.