296 - Peter’s Ministry to the Gentiles
OCTOBER 23 - Nº 296 Acts 9:32 – 10:23
Meanwhile, Peter traveled through Israel teaching about Jesus and encouraging new believers. When he came to Lydda, he met a man who had been paralyzed for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ wants to heal you. Get up and put away your mat!” Immediately Aeneas stood up. Everyone in Lydda and the nearby town of Sharon who saw him walking believed Peter’s message that Jesus was the Messiah. In Joppa, another town nearby, there was a believer named Tabitha. (In Greek her name was Dorcas.) She was known for her kindness to the poor. While Peter was still in Lydda she became sick and died. The people in Joppa heard about the man Peter had healed, so they sent two men to find him. The men begged him to come to Joppa right away. When Peter arrived, many widows were standing around Tabitha’s body weeping. They showed Peter robes and other articles of clothing she had made for them. Peter sent them out of the room and knelt down to pray. Turning toward the dead body, Peter commanded, “Tabitha, get up!” Tabitha opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up. He helped her to her feet, then invited everyone back into the room. Peter presented Dorcas to them—alive! As the word spread about this miracle, many people in Joppa put their faith in Jesus. Peter stayed there for a while, living in the home of a tanner named Simon. Meanwhile, there was a Roman military officer—a Gentile—who was stationed 35 miles from Joppa in the port city of Caesarea. He was a good man who was very generous to the poor. He worshiped God and prayed regularly. One afternoon, he had a vision. An angel of God came to him and said, “Cornelius, God has heard your prayers, and He sees your gifts to the poor. Send men to Joppa, to the home of Simon the tanner who lives by the sea. There they will find a man named Peter.” Cornelius immediately sent a devout soldier and two of his servants to Joppa to get Peter. About noon the next day, Peter was on Simon’s rooftop praying. He became very hungry. While he waited for his meal, he had a vision. He watched as heaven opened, and a large sheet came down filled with all kinds of animals that Jewish people had been forbidden to eat. A voice said, “Peter, get up. Kill these animals and eat them.” Peter responded. “No way, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean!” The voice responded, “Do not call anything unclean that God has made clean!” This happened a second time . . . and then a third. Then the sheet was taken back to heaven. Peter woke up. While he was still trying to figure out what the vision meant, the men that Cornelius had sent showed up at the gate. The Holy Spirit spoke to Peter, “Do not hesitate to go with these three men. I have sent them.” Peter went down and greeted his visitors. They told him about Cornelius and how the angel had spoken to him. “We were sent to ask you to come to his house so that he can learn from you,” they explained. The next day Peter left with them to go to Caesarea.
The lives of a Gentile (Cornelius) and a Jew (Peter), who normally would never have met, converged to change the course of Christianity. It was their prayers that brought them together! One was seeking how to know God, and the other was seeking how to serve Him. Our prayers connect us to God—and He connects us to each other! Are there people in your life who were sent by God in answer to your prayers?