THAT is the apostle Peter standing there, and those are some of his friends
behind him. But why is the man bowing down to Peter? Should he do that? Do you
know who he is? The man is Cornelius. He is a Roman army officer. Cornelius
doesn’t know Peter, but he was told to invite him to his house. Let’s find out
how this came about.
The high priest asks The first followers of Jesus were Jews, but Cornelius is not a Jew. Yet he loves God, he prays to him, and he does many kind things for people. Well, one afternoon an angel appears to him and says: ‘God is pleased with you, and he is going to answer your prayers. Send some men to get a certain man named Peter. He is staying in Joppa at the house of Simon, who lives by the sea.’
Well, right away Cornelius sends some men to find Peter. The next day, when
the men are getting near to Joppa, Peter is on the flat roof of Simon’s house.
There God makes Peter think that he sees a large cloth coming down from heaven.
In the cloth are all kinds of animals. According to God’s law, these animals
were unclean for food, and yet a voice says: ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
‘No!’ Peter answers. ‘I have never eaten what is not clean.’ But the voice
tells Peter: ‘Stop calling unclean what God now says is clean.’ Three times
this happens. While Peter is wondering what it all means, the men sent by
Cornelius arrive at the house and ask for Peter.
Peter goes downstairs and says: ‘I am the man you are looking for. Why have
you come?’ When the men explain that an angel told Cornelius to invite Peter to
his house, Peter agrees to go with them. The next day Peter and friends leave
to visit Cornelius in Caesarea.
Cornelius has gathered together his relatives and close friends. When Peter
comes, Cornelius meets him. He falls down and bows at Peter’s feet, as you see
here. But Peter says: ‘Rise; I myself am only a man.’ Yes, the Bible shows that
it is not right to bow down and worship a man. We should worship only Jehovah.
Peter now preaches to those gathered. ‘I see that God accepts all people
who want to serve him,’ Peter says. And while he is talking, God sends his holy
spirit, and the people begin to speak in different languages. This amazes the
Jewish disciples who came with Peter, because they thought that God favors only
the Jews. So this teaches them that God does not view people of any one race as
better or more important to God than people of any other race. Isn’t that
something good for all of us to remember?