Peter Rocks: Peter the Visionary
Sunday, May 21, 2017 – 9:30 & 11:00am
The Peter Rocks series continues with the story of Cornelius. It’s a great story of visions and dreams, leading Peter and the Jesus movement to recognize the faithfulness of good and faithful people from other religious traditions. Acts tells us that Cornelius and his household were pious, God-worshipers, but they weren’t Jews, so they weren’t sure about how to respond to them.
Later in the chapter, Peter actually says in every nation, whoever worships God and does what is right is acceptable to God. This is the message of peace… Peter clearly has a great inclusive vision for the emerging community of followers of Jesus:
Acts 10:1-28 Common English Bible
There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian Company. He and his whole household were pious, Gentile God-worshippers. He gave generously to those in need among the Jewish people and prayed to God constantly. One day at nearly three o’clock in the afternoon, he clearly saw an angel from God in a vision. The angel came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Startled, he stared at the angel and replied, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said, “Your prayers and your compassionate acts are like a memorial offering to God. Send messengers to Joppa at once and summon a certain Simon, the one known as Peter. He is a guest of Simon the tanner, whose house is near the seacoast.” When the angel who was speaking to him had gone, Cornelius summoned two of his household servants along with a pious soldier from his personal staff. He explained everything to them, then sent them to Joppa. At noon on the following day, as their journey brought them close to the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted to eat. While others were preparing the meal, he had a visionary experience. He saw heaven opened up and something like a large linen sheet being lowered to the earth by its four corners. Inside the sheet were all kinds of four-legged animals, reptiles, and wild birds. A voice told him, “Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!” Peter exclaimed, “Absolutely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
The voice spoke a second time, “Never consider unclean what God has made pure.” This happened three times, then the object was suddenly pulled back into heaven.
Peter was bewildered about the meaning of the vision. Just then, the messengers sent by Cornelius discovered the whereabouts of Simon’s house and arrived at the gate.Calling out, they inquired whether the Simon known as Peter was a guest there. While Peter was brooding over the vision, the Spirit interrupted him, “Look! Three people are looking for you. Go downstairs. Don’t ask questions; just go with them because I have sent them.”
So Peter went downstairs and told them, “I’m the one you are looking for. Why have you come?” They replied, “We’ve come on behalf of Cornelius, a centurion and righteous man, a God-worshipper who is well-respected by all Jewish people. A holy angel directed him to summon you to his house and to hear what you have to say.” Peter invited them into the house as his guests.
The next day he got up and went with them, together with some of the believers from Joppa. They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Anticipating their arrival, Cornelius had gathered his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in order to honor him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Get up! Like you, I’m just a human.” As they continued to talk, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them, “You all realize that it is forbidden for a Jew to associate or visit with outsiders. However, God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean.
Cornelius was part of the Roman establishment, and, as such, would be part of the emperor cult… seeing and worshiping the emperor as God. No matter what his religion or religious practice, he was a good man. He gave generously to those in need… and prayed to God constantly. That’s a pretty good track record for anybody’s religion! Do you find yourself judging people because of the “brand” of their religion -or lack of it? How might you be a bridge-builder to people from other religions. Ramadan begins next week… how might you be a bridge-builder to Muslim friends in our community? Might you make a plan right now?
Prayers please for:
Walter Aldrich,Ginny Baldauf, Rita Clark, Celina Davin, Monica Marks, Alice Miller, Steve Mitchell, Vivian Noble, Joella Sparks