Fifty Days of Prayer | Day 17

Lanier Chapel.jpg

Peter, like Cornelius, would have a vision. God, in both humor and wisdom, meets us where we are. In Peter's case he was hungry (10:10) and has a vision of food (10:11-16). But God wanted to show him more than a meal. He wanted to show him that the Kingdom of God was about to expand beyond the traditionally accepted boundaries. This was confirmed when the two servants of Cornelius showed up. The Holy Spirit told him the men were looking for him. Peter greeted them and welcomed them in. So, we pray for the Lord to show us who he wants to reach, even if they are unexpected or unlikely and to call them to us through visions and God-given direction.

The next day Peter left with the servants to return South to Joppa. Peter came to Cornelius's house. We're told that "many persons gathered" there. So, Peter realizes the purpose of the vision. Although God had shown Peter a vision of ceremonially "unclean" food it was meant to show him that the Kingdom of God was about to open to those outside of Judaism. He says to this small gathering, "God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean" (10:28). Asking them why he was there, Cornelius recounts his vision from the Lord. Peter tells them that Jesus came in the power of the Spirit to do good and to heal. He was crucified, dead, and buried. On the third day he rose from the dead. Upon hearing this the Holy Spirit came on every one in the house. So we pray for opportunity to meet the ones God is drawing, to preach Christ to them, and to see the Spirit change lives right in front of us by reaching into new and unexpected areas, houses, and families.

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
— Acts 10:9-33