1999-08-04 - God's Reach
Acts 10:27-28 And as he talked with him, he entered, and found many people assembled. 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.(NASB)
I have said before that I love Peter. He reminds me of me when I am so sure of myself. Peter has recently seen a vision of a sheet coming down out of Heaven with all kinds of ceremonially unclean animals in it. God tells Peter to kill and eat, three times and three times Peter stubbornly refuses. He reminds the Lord that he has never eaten anything unclean. In a loud voice God tells Peter not to call anything unclean that He has declared to be clean. We are about to see why.
Peter was also told to go with the men he would find downstairs. Well, they were gentiles, one a Roman soldier. To travel with them would make Peter unclean. He obeys God's instruction and follows the men back to their master, Cornelius. That must have been tough for Peter. He was deliberately violating his training and understanding. Now, the group arrives at the home of Cornelius - a gentile home - and Peter enters without quibbling. To enter the home of a gentile would make Peter unclean. But Peter has been paying attention.
God has revealed to Peter that things he has considered unclean all his life will now be considered clean. Because Peter has been obedient and not struggled against the instructions Jesus gave him in the vision, the Gospel is about to become available to the gentile world. In this moment, the door of salvation is kicked open down through the ages to you and me. The Good News has gone first to the Jew, and is now spreading to the gentiles as promised.
Peter has just been shown that there is nowhere that God can to reach to restore someone to fellowship with Him. Salvation is no longer restricted from anyone at all. I think of the places I have seen God reach and I marvel.
Into a filthy housing project - a little girl who would never bathe; both body and clothes rank and dirty was reached by an obedient young lady who went in to read them Bible stories. She is now a radiant young girl for Jesus. Into a drug and prostitution riddled neighborhood where women's children play lookout for the police while their mom turns tricks to feed them - Jesus touches the hearts of many, changing lives. LA Gangland - a young pastor reaches out to gang members. Two leaders of rival gangs kneel together to accept Jesus as Savior. Middle-class America. A young lady who had been raped repeatedly as a young girl by neighborhood bullies hears the good news that no matter what has happened Jesus loves her. She's helping others know the same love that she now knows. The son of militant atheist Madeline Murry-O'Hare accepts the Savior he had been told was a lie. The Auca Indians hear of the love of Jesus from the wives of the men these cannibals had killed and eaten in full view of the women the day before. The Chief of the tribe accepts Jesus seeing the commitment of the women. Cornelius is merely the first drop through as the dam that has held back the flood for centuries is shattered - by the obedience of one man to the call of God. Gentiles had been touched through the Old Testament, but one by one: an Assyrian General, Naomi's daughter-in-law Ruth of Moab. In this meeting, it is made clear that that has all been changed. And in all this, Jesus reached me so I know that there are no limits on who God will save or who can be reached.
If Jesus touches your heart to speak with someone, don't write them off as unreachable. God knows what He is doing, so trust Him. The Lord's arm is not too short to reach out and prepare any heart to hear the Good News that the Savior is risen and they are forgiven. The power of God is not so weak that it can not change any heart no matter how stony or neglected. Tell them about this Jesus.
Grace & Peace,