In the previous few readings we have considered various details connected to the way that Jesus, as the seeking Saviour, pursued Cornelius, the Roman soldier who was seeking for spiritual reality. Today we will think about what happened when Peter was used by Jesus to bring him and Cornelius together. What happened then tells us what will happen now when the seeking Saviour and a seeking sinner meet?
The first detail to note is that Jesus gives the Holy Spirit as a gift to Cornelius and his family and friends (v. 44). Luke uses a wonderful word to describe the arrival of the Spirit – he fell on them. ‘Fell’ usually indicates that some weight belongs to whatever landed on a person. We would not normally say that a feather fell on us. So Cornelius and his friends received much of the Spirit.
What is the significance of receiving the Spirit? One answer is purity. Through the work of Jesus from heaven, Cornelius had become a pure man, set apart to God by the indwelling Holy Spirit. A second answer is prosperity because the Spirit is the key that Jesus uses to open up to us the treasures of the kingdom of God. A third answer is power because, after all, the Holy Spirit is divine. So Cornelius the sinful centurion discovered that he was purified, Cornelius the Roman citizen with many privileges discovered that he had become a far wealthier man because he had access now to heavenly riches, and Cornelius the faithful soldier of the Empire discovered a new kind of power far more effective that the powers of earth. That is what the seeking Saviour gives to the sinner he has found.
But what does the seeking sinner give to Jesus? The answer to this question is twofold praise. We don’t know what language they spoke in, but we do know what they were doing – they were extolling God. Their praise was strong and clear. What else would we expect from those who now realised that Jesus had given them salvation and the Spirit? Along with praise, the seeking sinners (Cornelius and family and friends) gave Jesus a public declaration that they belonged to him. This they did when they were baptised and identified themselves with God’s kingdom. So they gave to Jesus the praise of their lips and a public statement that they belonged to him.
What effect did Cornelius the seeking sinner have on the Christians? To begin with there was amazement as they saw what God was doing before their eyes in the hearts of Cornelius and company. This was a great day for the kingdom of God when Gentiles came in to the church of Christ. So there is no wonder that they were amazed. The amazement was followed by fellowship because they wanted to be together. And out of this flowed an appetite to know more about Jesus from Peter, so he stayed there for several days. Cornelius the seeking sinner was now satisfied.