By Sally Lombardo
“’And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.” As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?’ When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” (Acts 11:13–18)
In today’s Scripture reading, Cornelius reports that he saw an angel standing in his house, who told him to go to Joppa and bring Peter back to his house to hear a message from God, “a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (11:14). When Cornelius told this story, Peter was probably surprised that the angel mentioned his name. But after years of following Jesus and serving God, Peter trusted God’s plan. Peter might have wondered what words of wisdom he would impart to the Gentiles. But as Peter started to speak, “the Holy Spirit fell on them” (11:15), just as the Spirit had fallen on the believers at Pentecost. Peter didn’t need to know what to say because the Spirit went before him to prepare the people’s hearts to hear the message of salvation.
Have you ever been faced with a situation that required wise words? Have you ever felt unsure of how to share the Good News? In the Book of Common Prayer, we are reminded that we have “no real power in ourselves to help ourselves.” We cannot save ourselves—nobody can. But we can share the full truth of God’s Word with others and pray that the Spirit opens their hearts as we witness for Christ. God doesn’t ask us to know all things or have our lives in perfect order when we minister to others. We can pray for God’s help and trust that he will help us as we share the Gospel with others.
In this passage, Peter remembers that he had a different calling than John the Baptist. Peter was not charged to proclaim a baptism of repentance, but a baptism of the Spirit through new life with Jesus. The word baptize means “to christen” or to make like Christ, and that is what the Gospel does. Cornelius saw something different in Peter, and he humbled himself to seek help from a Jew. Peter called the Gentiles his friends and shared the message of the Good News that leads to eternal life.
Reflection: Who shared the Gospel with you? Who can you share the Good News with this week? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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