"You know the story of what happened in Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached a total life-change. Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the devil. He was able to do all this because God was with Him.
"And we saw it, saw it all, everything He did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed Him, hung Him from a cross. But in three days God had Him up, alive and out where He could be seen. Not everyone saw Him -- He was not put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand -- us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with Him after He came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that He is in fact the One whom God designated as Judge of the living and dead. But we're not alone in this. Our witness that He is the means to the forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of the prophets." Acts 10:37-43 (The Message).
If you had stood in Peter's shoes, what would you have said to that company of Gentiles eagerly waiting to hear your message? Would you have explained that they were all sinners and needed to be "saved"? Would you have given them a gory description of hell? Would you have urged them to repent of their sins and receive Jesus as their personal Saviour?
Peter had so much to tell them and an audience hanging on every word. What was the most pressing thing they were longing to hear? Peter grabbed the opportunity to present Jesus to them, not a Jesus who would deal with their problems and give them peace (which are not the reason but the result of bowing the knee to Him as Lord), but the Jesus who represented a loving God to the world and whom God authenticated by His resurrection to be both Saviour and Judge.
He, Peter, and his fellow disciples were eyewitnesses of the most amazing event in history; God came in the flesh to live among His people as an ordinary man, die the death of a criminal and rise from the dead. They saw Him, they spoke with Him and He ate with the after He had risen from the dead. What did all that mean?
It meant that everything He said and did was the truth. It all hung on His declaration that He would die and rise again. He had to be who He said He was to pull that off! And pull it off He did! Not only did He predict that He would do it but the prophets who wrote hundreds of years before He appeared on earth also predicted the same thing.
Surely this Jesus, who did something like that, was to be embraced as the Son of God and His promise believed that forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the Father was the outcome of His death and resurrection. That was the message of the apostles to the world and that was the explosive power of the good news.
To these Gentiles who had known only the worship of gods who demanded but never gave, this came as a light from heaven. The proof of its truth lay in the evidence of eyewitnesses who were willing to face imprisonment and death rather than deny what they had seen and heard. Through Jesus they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place in God's kingdom for which they had to do nothing.
What joy it must have given Peter to have the freedom to deliver a message like this to people he never thought would be eligible to receive it! God had forcefully made it clear that Jesus was for everyone, even for Gentiles and Roman soldiers! He had forgotten that the prophets had spoken of this day.
"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me." Isaiah 65:1 (NIV).
"And now the Lord says...'It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and to bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.'" Isaiah 49:6 (NIV).
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