(1600 – 1682, Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Germany)
Easter (Sunday, March 23, 2008)
Skeptical scholars sometimes argue that Judaism was a construct of the Jews intended to provide themselves with a special national identity. Such thinking completely misses the point of both the Old and New Testaments. The promise God originally made to Abraham was never meant for the Jewish people alone but rather for every people on the earth. Thus Peter says here, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (vv. 34, 35).
And so Peter finds himself here in the home of a Gentile named Cornelius. What a fun evangelistic appointment this must have been: God had so prepared Cornelius that he and his family were prepared to accept everything Peter said before Peter opened his mouth. This is a good reminder for those of us concerned about proclaiming our message: it is God who opens hearts – not our words or even our actions.
It’s fascinating to see how Peter summarizes the gospel for Cornelius and family. Peter calls it “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ” (v. 36). Peter continues, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (v. 43). The gospel is this: our problem as human beings is that we are broken by sin, which is rebellion against God and all that is right. Yet God offers us forgiveness of sins through his Son’s death on the cross for us.
If you haven’t yet believed this message, please look within yourself today. Do you see brokenness? Would you like to be put back together and to be forgiven for your own failures to do what is right? Then let today be your day. There is a new life waiting for you. Let this Easter be your own personal resurrection from the dead.