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 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 Jopʹpa 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 Jopʹpa, 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 Caes·a·reʹa.
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?
What important lesson should we learn from Peter’s visit to Cornelius?