International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday October 18, 2015
Purpose: To be willing to do what is right, despite the risk
Bible Lesson: Acts 10:24-38
Background Scripture: Acts 10:1-44
Key Verses "I am really learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34b-35)
Acts 10:24-38 (CEB)
(24) They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Anticipating their arrival, Cornelius had gathered his relatives and close friends. (25) As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in order to honor him. (26) But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Get up! Like you, I’m just a human.” (27) As they continued to talk, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. (28) He said to them, “You all realize that it is forbidden for a Jew to associate or visit with outsiders. However, God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean. (29) For this reason, when you sent for me, I came without objection. I want to know, then, why you sent for me.” (30) Cornelius answered, “Four days ago at this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon, I was praying at home. Suddenly a man in radiant clothing stood before me. (31) He said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayers, and your compassionate acts are like a memorial offering to him. (32) Therefore, send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is known as Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, located near the seacoast.’ (33) I sent for you right away, and you were kind enough to come. Now, here we are, gathered in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has directed you to say.” (34) Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. (35) Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (36) This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all! (37) You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism John preached. (38) You know about Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and endowed with power. Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
I think it is very hard for us to understand the conflict within Peter. He had been taught to live life with a certain standard of rules. I doubt that his life he lived in the presence of Jesus differed from what he had been taught by his mother and father, concerning keeping a kosher home and obeying Jewish tradition and laws. The fact that he was staying in Joppa with a “tanner” was already quite a break from Jewish law, because tanners were considered an unclean profession.
As we look at the text for today there is one thing that stands out, the importance of prayer plays a big part in today’s story. Both Cornelius the Centurion, and Peter the Disciple were in prayer when the visions came about. It far more likely for God to speak to us when we are in prayer with Him.
The revelation that Peter experienced was very radical, it was contrary to everything he had been taught. The fact that he was asked to go and visit a non-Jewish home and associate with Gentiles is a big deal. That Cornelius, who was a God worshipper, had the fortitude to even ask a Jew of Peter’s standing to come to his house is equally, a big deal.
It has been said that God is more interested in our scars, than in our pedigree or degrees. Both Peter and Cornelius risk being scarred by their interaction with each other. Peter was traveling with other Jews from Jerusalem, and Cornelius was the head of one-hundred Italian soldiers.
When God calls us to take a risk for His sake, we need to heed the call. Heeding a call that involves risk requires faith on our part. I am listing some famous quotes about faith that I find helpful in trying to define my own faith.
*“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” (Thomas Aquinas)
* “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie Ten Boom)
* “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
* “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” (Augustine of Hippo)
As the hymn writer says, “Faith is the Victory That Overcomes the World.”