9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” 22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. Peter at Cornelius’s House The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Cornelius was a Roman officer whose prayers and gifts to the poor were noticed by God. God saw that Cornelius was genuinely seeking after him and trying to live a devout life. It was Peter’s job to explain the gospel of Jesus Christ to Cornelius and those of his household. Easier said than done when Peter was a Jew and Cornelius was a Gentile. Peter received a fresh revelation through a vision of God’s purpose for the Gentiles which he initially didn’t comprehend. Peter obeyed God nonetheless and the understanding came to him and the message of Jesus was shared freely with Cornelius.
Initially Peter did not understand the vision God had presented him with concerning the Gentiles. The bible says he was perplexed and puzzled – he had no clue! Peter’s lack of understanding did not stop him from obeying God though. He knew it was God speaking to him and chose to act when it was contrary to everything he’d ever known. In doing so it became apparent to Peter exactly what God was saying and his part in it. Basically, Peter stepped out in faith. It can be like that for believers today, we know we’ve heard God speak to us about a certain thing but we don’t know where or how it will end. This story encourages me to step out anyway, with what I do know to do. An understanding of why God wants a certain thing may come, it may not. I just need to accept that God is sovereign and obey.
Dear Lord, thank you that you are sovereign and in control, help me to understand what you are saying to me and give me strength to do what you require. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods