Cornelius Calls for Peter
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
Peter at Cornelius’s House
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Cornelius has the honor of being the first Gentile convert to faith in Jesus in the Bible. This doesn’t mean he was the first Gentile to convert. In Mark 5 Jesus delivered a man from a legion of demons. This man had lived like a wild animal and when people overpowered him and put him in chains to constrain him, he broke free from the chains. But after Jesus delivered him people were amazed to see him sitting with clothes on and in his right mind. (Mark 5:18–20)
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
The Decapolis was a region with ten Greek cities that had been built and it was to these Greek cities that the man went to speak about Jesus who had delivered him. Jesus told him, “Go home to your own people,” which indicates that this man was likely a Gentile who was given the charge of telling his people about Jesus. Tom Wright, the British New Testament scholar, calls this man “the first apostle to the Gentiles.”
In heaven we will discover who the first Gentile follower of Jesus was, but in Luke’s account of the early church, Cornelius takes that honor.
Who was Cornelius? Luke writes,
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
A centurion was the commander of a “century”, a military unit of about eighty legionaries. Cornelius was in the Italian Regiment and his name indicates that he was from a distinguished family in Rome. Julian the Apostate, a fourth century Roman Emperor who converted from Christianity to Paganism, wrote that Cornelius was one of the few persons of distinction who became a Christian.
When you read the gospels or the book of Acts and someone is named, it is likely that the person named was known in the early church as a follower of Jesus. Luke does not mention by name any of the Samaritans who became followers of Jesus, but he does mention Cornelius by name.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke make mention of Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus. There is speculation that “Simeon called Niger”, who was one of the prophets and teachers in Antioch along with Barnabas and Saul, is this same Simon. Cyrene was located in Libya and “niger” is the Latin word for “black”. It is likely that Simon, or Simeon, was a well known member of the early church, a black African who carried the cross for Jesus.
So the fact that Cornelius is named is an indication that he was a well respected member of the early church.
When someone who is famous becomes a Christian, the church gets excited. The early church and the church throughout its existence has always valued “persons of distinction”.
Cornelius was a man of distinction but he was also a pious man.
He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
Cornelius was not a convert to Judaism. He had not been circumcised, but he prayed to the God of the Jews. Remember that Cornelius was raised in Rome where there were sixty-seven gods and goddesses in the Roman pantheon and many more demigods. Roman life was filled with unceasing festivals honoring the different gods and goddesses. Sacrifices were made to the gods and goddesses in the many temples that existed. This was the culture and daily life of a Roman citizen.
But something happened to Cornelius that pulled him away from the polytheistic religious life he grew up with and led him to worship one God, the God of Israel.
His worship was not external. His worship came from the heart because he was a generous man, giving generously to those in need. In our modern way of speaking, he did not just talk the talk, he walked the walk. His actions were consistent with his devotion to God.
One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
God saw his heart and knew Cornelius was ready to become a follower of Jesus. So God sent an angel who appeared to him. This was not a vague, blurry vision. Luke writes that Cornelius “distinctly saw an angel of God” who approached him and spoke to him. And as is almost always the case when an angel appeared to someone, Cornelius experienced fear. The angel said that his prayers and gifts to the poor were like a sweet smelling sacrifice, with smoke from the burning sacrifice rising to heaven. And then he gave Cornelius instructions about how to find Peter.
Cornelius sent two servants and a devout soldier who shared his beliefs so he could accurately convey the message he carried to Peter. After arriving in Joppa and talking with Peter, they started the nine to ten hour journey back to the home of Cornelius. The three men who came from Cornelius were joined by Peter and six other followers of Jesus who lived in Joppa. I would imagine that Simon the tanner, whose house Peter was staying in, was one of those.
The next day they arrived at the home of Cornelius where they were greeted by a small crowd.
The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
Cornelius was excited. How many times have you seen an angel? I once went on a three day spiritual retreat at a Catholic center. I fasted for the three days and read the Bible, journaled, meditated, sang, and prayed. I prayed earnestly that during those three days I would see an angel. I had a roommate in university who had seen an angel and I wanted to see one. During those three days I kept looking up. I sang a song and then looked up at the end of the bed, but there was no angel. I prayed and then looked up, but no angel. I woke up in the morning and looked, but no angel. I looked but never saw anything. It was a good three days but if I had seen an angel, there would have been a special excitement.
Cornelius was excited and although he did not know what Peter would do when he came, he knew it was going to be something wonderful. So he invited his relatives and close friends so they could share in this experience. Cornelius was bubbling over with anticipation.
This is further evidence that Cornelius had a big heart. He was not self-centered, focused on himself. Something good was going to happen and he wanted to share this good thing with his family and friends. They waited for three days for Cornelius’ message to get to Joppa and then for the return trip back. There were three days of growing eagerness and anticipation about what would happen when Peter came.
As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.
Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet in reverence. Cornelius, a Roman centurion, a person of distinction, fell at the feet of a Jew. He did this in the presence of his relatives and close friends. His servants saw him do this. He undermined his authority as a Roman centurion by doing this. To be a Roman centurion you needed to project strength and power and what Cornelius did would have been seen as a sign of weakness. This blows my mind. This is completely amazing. When I get to heaven I want to hear Cornelius tell his story and what led him to this point in his life.
Peter made Cornelius stand up. “I am only a man myself.” Peter had enough experiences with Jesus to know how fallible he was. Peter was well aware that he did not deserve to be worshiped, that the signs and wonders that accompanied his preaching the kingdom of God, the good news of Jesus, came from Jesus – not himself.
Paul also knew he did not deserve to be worshiped. When Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra they healed a man born lame and the crowd wanted to treat them like gods but Paul cried out, (Acts 14:15)
“Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you.
There is a tendency in the church for people to elevate those whose spiritual gifts are used in a powerful way. People elevate preachers and healers to unhealthy levels and men and women who use these gifts powerfully are not always able to resist basking in the light of this elevation. Unfortunately, humility does not always go along with a powerful use of spiritual gifts.
But Paul and Barnabas knew how unhealthy it was to accept the adoration of other people. Peter knew how unhealthy that was and made Cornelius stand up. “I am only a man myself.”
Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people and told them that while it was true that Jews are not permitted to associate with Gentiles, God had revealed to him a new understanding. Peter could no longer call someone clean or unclean.
John Stott writes in his commentary, “Peter refused both to be treated by Cornelius as if he were a god, and to treat Cornelius as if he were a dog.” (This clever sentence only works in English where god and dog are spelled in reverse order.)
Beware of men and women who exalt in a elevated status because of their use of the gifts God has given them. If Jesus acted as a servant, then so must we act as servants. We are not better than anyone else. We are all sinners, desperately in need of salvation. There is a great equality in the body of Christ. We have different gifts and some gifts put us in positions of leadership, but we are all equal in the eyes of God. Spiritual gifts are best exercised with humility.
Peter asked Cornelius, “May I ask why you sent for me?”
Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
At Pentecost, the crowd who gathered because of the noise that came with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was eager to hear Peter’s first sermon. The crowd that gathered in the Temple because of the man born lame who was healed and now could not be kept from jumping and leaping about – was eager to hear Peter’s sermon.
It seems obvious that Cornelius had told his family and friends what had happened and now they had gathered in eager anticipation of what Peter had to say.
Cornelius told Peter, “Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Cornelius did not simply say, “We are eager to hear what you have to say.” Cornelius was aware that they were speaking in the presence of God.
How often are we aware that we are speaking in the presence of God? Certainly, it is good to be aware of the presence of God in our church services. But God is not just present on Sunday morning and then takes a break and visits other planets in the universe Monday through Saturday.
There is a valley outside of Marrakech called Ourika. This is a beautiful place to visit with waterfalls at the end of the valley. The towns in the valley are called Monday Ourika, Tuesday Ourika, and so on because those are the days the market comes to their town. The market travels up and down the valley each week.
God is not only a Sunday God. He is a Monday God, Tuesday God, and Wednesday God. He is God of earthly time and he is God of universal time. God not only fills the universe, he overflows the universe. God is far greater than the universe. God has to limit his presence to fit into the universe he created.
God is present during our church services and he is present when we sit down in a café and talk with someone. He is present when we have a conversation over the phone. He is present when we sit through a meeting.
Brother Lawrence was a seventeenth century Carmelite lay brother in a monastery in Paris and was renowned for his wisdom. After his death his letters and conversations were recorded in a book, The Practice of the Presence of God. He wrote:
“How can one be in a spirit of prayer, even while peeling potatoes? That is, how can a person commune with God, even while performing the most mundane tasks? His answer: practice – more specifically, the practice of the presence of God.”
In the presence of God, Cornelius waited to hear what Peter had to say. There is no better audience than one that has been prepared by God to hear the message.
Luke records a very brief summary of what Peter had to say and the gospel Peter preached to Cornelius and his family and friends would later become what Mark recorded of Peter’s preaching and teaching in his gospel – the Gospel of Mark. Peter did not present a Gentile gospel. He did not present a Jewish gospel. The message Peter presented was the good news of Jesus which is good news to Jews and Gentiles.
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Peter had experienced the expansion of God’s kingdom when Jesus welcomed the unclean into his band of disciples: lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors. Peter saw the kingdom of God expand to the Samaritans and now he saw that the kingdom of God was open to the Gentiles.
Peter stood as a witness to the life of Jesus. He testified to what he had seen and heard and experienced first-hand. The core of his preaching centered on the death and resurrection of Jesus.
We can learn from Peter about how to share the good news of Jesus. We don’t need fancy formulas or creative phrases. What had power in the gospel Peter shared with Cornelius and his family and friends is what has power today.
We share the life and character of Jesus. We share the stories in the gospels about how Jesus loved people, cared for people, healed people, delivered people from demonic possession. The power of Jesus is still active in this world.
We share the death of Jesus on the cross. Why did Jesus die? Why did he willingly allow himself to be crucified?
We share his glorious resurrection from the dead and the hope that brings to us. We no longer need to be afraid of death because we too will rise from the dead into eternal life in heaven.
We share the witness of Peter and the other disciples to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We share our own witness to what Jesus has done in our lives.
We share the promise Jesus made to return when he will judge the living and the dead. We share our faith, trusting that because Jesus is the one who forgives sins, we can look forward to this day that is coming.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
In his commentary on Acts, Peter Wagner talks about this as the third Pentecost. The first is in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jewish disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem. The second is in Acts 8 when Peter and John went to Samaria to see for themselves what Phillip had told them, that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God. Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Now in this third Pentecost, Gentiles were filled with the Holy Spirit.
In Luke’s telling of the growth of the early church, the expansion of the church from Jerusalem to Samaria and now to the Gentiles sets the stage for Paul to begin to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Because I am speaking to a community of followers of Jesus with diverse theological backgrounds I have to make some comments about being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues.
There are three times in Acts when speaking in tongues is evidence that someone was filled with the Holy Spirit. The first is in Acts 2 when the disciples began speaking in foreign languages. This is different from speaking in tongues that only those with the gift of interpretation can understand. The second is in today’s text in Cornelius’ household. The third is in Acts 19 when Paul met people in Ephesus who had been baptized with John’s baptism. Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus and then laid hands on them to be filled with the Holy Spirit which was evidenced by their speaking in tongues and prophesying. There is no mention of the Samaritans speaking in tongues but that does not mean they did not speak in tongues.
As someone who does not speak in tongues, how do I understand this? It is clear that speaking in tongues was evidence of being filled with the Spirit. Does this mean that it is normative? Does everyone who is filled with the Spirit speak in tongues? If I do not speak in tongues, am I not filled with the Spirit?
It could be that something is lacking in my life with Christ and that my Christian experience is not complete without speaking in tongues. But my experience tells me that I am filled with the Holy Spirit and I see evidence of this as I use the spiritual gifts I do have.
When we want to understand the theology of our faith, it is best to go to the letters of Paul who was able to take the death and resurrection of Jesus and understand the implications of what Jesus accomplished. Paul spoke in tongues and wished we all shared his experience, but he is clear that we are all filled with the Spirit when we accept God’s gift of salvation. He wrote in Ephesians 1:13–14
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
We are filled with the Holy Spirit when we become followers of Jesus and then we are given spiritual gifts to be used to build up the body of Christ into the image of Christ. Paul wrote in
1 Corinthians 12:27–31
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Paul makes the point that we do not all have the same gifts and that we are asked to use the gifts God gives us. There is not one gift that all followers of Jesus have or should have.
I have prayed to have the gift of tongues. Friends who have the gift of tongues tell me that it is a soothing and encouraging experience to pray in tongues. They tell me that the gift of tongues draws them into a more intimate relationship with Jesus. They don’t know what they are praying but the Spirit is praying for them. I want a more intimate relationship with Jesus and have prayed for this gift, but it does not seem to be one of the gifts God thinks I need.
So to conclude this little discussion, be open to whatever gift God wants to give you. Don’t resist any gift God wants you to have. Don’t envy the gifts God has given someone else. Use the gifts God has given you with humility as you do your part in building up the body of Christ.
It is painful for me to see how the church takes the gifts God gives us and uses them to divide the church. The gifts are meant to build us up into unity and we take them to cut each other in pieces and separate us from each other.
Forgive us father.
The good news is that Jesus is undeterred in his work to sow seeds and reap a harvest.
Peter looked at Cornelius, his family, his close friends. He saw the eagerness in their faces, the desire in their eyes to hear what he had to say. And he said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
God does not show favoritism. Peter saw Jesus speak to people and touch people respectable Jews avoided. Peter saw Jesus speak to Jairus, a highly respected synagogue ruler. Peter saw Jesus look with compassion on women who were prostitutes and treat them with dignity. He saw Jesus rebuke his disciples who tried to keep children away from him. He saw Jesus take them into his lap, bless them, and use them as an example of how we should be with God. Jesus loved everybody, even the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who fought against him and wanted him to be killed. He heard about the words of Jesus on the cross, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Lent begins in a couple weeks. Elliot and I have decided to preach on passages in the gospels that make us fall in love with Jesus. What do you read in the gospels that makes you fall in love with Jesus? Send Elliot and me an email. We want to preach on those passages. It might be an encounter Jesus had with someone or something he said in response to a question. Whatever it is, let us know. Your responses will lead us to the passages we will preach from starting in a couple weeks.
We love God because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Peter said that God does not show favoritism but as a parent of two daughters I put a different spin on this. I decided that I do have favorites and I tell my daughter, Elizabeth, that she is my favorite daughter. I also tell my daughter, Caitlin, that she is my favorite daughter. If love is limited, then there is only so much to go around and you have to allot love to the different people in your life. But if love is unlimited, then it can be abundantly expressed, overflowing into the life of each person you love.
God’s love is unlimited so we each receive an abundance of love that overflows in our lives. We are each one of us God’s favorite. He does not love us more than someone else; he loves each of us completely and totally.
We are not always very good at this. We look at someone and think, “I have more money than this person does.” “I have a better education than this person has.” “I have a better work ethic than this person.” “I am kinder and more generous than this person.” “I am wiser than this person.” “I am more caring and compassionate than this person.”
We look at people and make judgments about them. I talked last Sunday about our prejudices. We all have lots of prejudices, whether we are aware of them or not, and these prejudices cause us to make negative judgments about others we see or meet or read about.
But God shows no favoritism. He loves the people we push away as much as he loves us.
The angel came to Cornelius and said, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” God was pleased with the piety and generosity of Cornelius and so he sent an angel to make a divine appointment for Cornelius with Peter. But Jesus also had a divine appointment with the Geresene demoniac who went around without clothes, living in a cave, a danger to anyone who came near him.
When I get to heaven, I am eager to hear the story Cornelius has to tell but I am also eager, perhaps a bit more eager, to hear the story the Geresene demoniac has to tell.
All those in heaven will have a story to tell. Some stories will be more gritty than others. Cornelius never went around without clothes, living like a wild animal, but he was just as much in need of Jesus as the Geresene demoniac.
If Cornelius’ pagan religious life had been sufficient, why did he go to the synagogue? If the synagogue had been enough, why did God sent Peter to him? We all need Jesus. Even people the world tells us are good need to be saved.
The Holy Spirit knows what you needed to hear in this sermon. I trust you have been attentive to his voice.
I want you to remember that you are God’s favorite. He delights in you. He is proud of you when you make your best effort to be his disciple. We all stumble and fall, but the disciples stumbled and fell and Jesus still loved them. You are deeply loved despite your weaknesses and failings.
Pray that God will lead you to people who he has prepared to hear what you have to say about your life with Jesus. The best conversations about Jesus are those that are orchestrated by God. In those conversations, don’t worry about having all the right words. Let the conversation flow naturally. Let the person you are talking with ask questions. Don’t direct the conversation; follow the conversation.
God does not need your fancy words to communicate the gospel of Jesus, he needs you to share the power of what God has done in your life. You have a story to tell. Pray that God will lead you to people who are eager to hear your story.