Coming home from tutoring a Hebrew student, I got a speeding ticket. The ticket strongly states that I must appear before the judge on such and such a date unless I choose to take a defensive driving course. This is what I chose to do, and as I move toward the court date, I keep getting emails reminding me to complete the online course on time. If I don't, I'll have to pay my fine in full and it will go down on my driving record. But if I complete the course, there will be no blight on my record and my insurance won't go up.
When the Apostle Peter arrived at Cornelius' house, the centurion and his entire household were all good God-fearing people. But Peter still reminded them about the facts they knew about Jesus, and he stressed that Jesus is the God appointed judge, the One all of us will face. But like my speeding ticket, rather than paying our own fine, God has provided an alternative. And it's a lot better than a remedial course.
"Peter opened his mouth and said, 'Now I realize how true it is that God does not show any partiality, but among all ethnic groups he will welcome all those who reverence him and do what's right. You know the word, the Good News of peace that God proclaimed to the Sons of Israel through Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all.
You know the things that happened in all the land of Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism proclaimed by John. How God anointed Jesus from Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He traveled about doing good works and healing all those oppressed by the devil because God was with Him. We are witnesses of all these things He did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him, hanging Him on a tree. This is the One God raised the third day and caused Him to be seen-- seen not by all the people but only by witnesses chosen beforehand by God.
We were included in this group. After He rose from the dead, we ate and drank with Him. And He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that He is the One whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness through His name.'"
Peter makes it clear. Cornelius' prayers and gracious gifts to the poor caught God's attention, but did not bring God's forgiveness. Like all of us, He needed the facts about Jesus. Peter reminded him about the miracles, the crucifixion, and the resurrection-all well known throughout Judea. Then Peter gave him the Good News. Those who simply believed in Jesus received God's complete forgiveness.
LORD, I praise hou that Jesus did a lot more than take a course for me. He paid my penalty in full. Thanks again for moving me to believe in your Son as a young boy, and I pray that many, like Cornelius, whose hearts will open to your gift.
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