Acts 10:38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Peter made this statement to Cornelius in awkward, difficult, uncomfortable circumstances. He did something unique. "And he said to them, 'You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean'" (Acts 10:28). God did a lot to convince Peter this was the right thing to do. Peter's past said this was not what God wanted because Cornelius was the wrong kind of people.

The crucified Jesus changed everything! Peter needed to understand the change! No longer was an "Israelite" determined by birth, but by faith in God's work in Jesus' resurrection. As Paul explained to non-Jewish Christians in Galatia, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise" (Galatians 3:26-29).

It took a lot for God to convince Peter to see His concern for all people. Even after a vision [seen three times] (Acts 10:9-16), vocal instructions from the Spirit (Acts 10:17-20), and an encouraging report about Cornelius (Acts 10:22), Peter did not know why he went to Cornelius's home. He did not understand why Cornelius wanted him to come (Acts 10:28, 29). He had no idea about what to say in that situation!

Then he understood! "Opening his mouth, Peter said: 'I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him'" (Acts 10:34,35).

Please note: (1) Peter told Cornelius about Jesus. (2) He confirmed Jesus' identity. (3) He wanted Cornelius to understand that "Jesus went about doing good," that he provided healing to those oppressed by the devil, and that God was with him.

Do people ever need to hear this message: (1) Jesus used His life and abilities to do good. (2) He has the power to heal those oppressed by the devil. (3) God was (and is!) with Him in what he did and does.

Who needs to hear this message? Those who conclude there is only evil in the world. Those who think there is no hope. Those oppressed by the devil. Why? They need to know Jesus can be their source of goodness and hope. They need to understand that God Himself is behind the good Jesus does and the hope Jesus gives.

If you belong to Jesus, use your life to do good. End your oppression to the devil. Depend on God who sent us Jesus. Share the freedom and the hope.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 12 October 2003

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