God Has No Favourites
Cornelius was a Gentile Roman soldier. And Peter was a Jew who should never have gone into the home of a Gentile, according to the strict ceremonial laws. But God had prepared Peter to understand that in Christ there was no longer a special right of access to God for the Jews. Of course they were privileged to know what pleased God in the Old Testament law, and to have prophecies about Jesus coming as the Saviour God. They were also intended to announce the coming of the Messiah to the whole world.
But despite the Scriptures, the sacrifices and countless prophets, most did not recognise Jesus when He came or continue to follow Him. Indeed, they called for His crucifixion (Luke 23:20-24). Although they squandered their privileges, they were still welcome to repent and trust in Jesus: however, now they could no longer hold a unique claim on Jesus the Messiah (Romans 1:16). The gospel was open for all to hear and to respond – irrespective of nationality, cultural, ethnic or religious background (Galatians 3:28-29).
Cornelius was a God-seeker. He gave to the poor, said prayers and was a kind centurion (Acts10:2). God was glad that he was seeking (Acts 10:4), but in order for him to be saved, he needed to hear and respond to the gospel. That was why Peter was prepared, not just to visit this one man with his family and friends, but to be willing to let the gospel be shared with people of all nationalities. The historic record of Jesus' ministry seemed to be even more compelling to Gentiles than Jews. They could see that the facts of His life spoke for themselves. What they needed to know was why He was like that, why He died and rose again and how they could be saved. That is the content of the gospel; and the responsibility of the church to tell the world.
Peter's realisation also teaches us that God does not have favourites (James 2:1-13). He works with those who honour Him as far as they understand Him (Hebrews 11:6); and will send gospel messengers to tell them how to be saved. The first part of the message is to explain who Jesus is and what He has done. While the world is running after religion and spirituality, the gospel messenger is presenting Jesus. If you know Him, say His Name, talk about Him as Your Lord and Saviour and introduce your friends and colleagues to the accounts of what He said and did. Preach, share, explain, and let the people you know, get to know who Jesus is.
© Dr Paul Adams