Tree of Life for All

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: Acts 10

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day. (vv. 39-40)

What a remarkable story. Cornelius was a captain in the Roman army. A devout non-Jew, he feared God, gave alms, and prayed continually. And he paid attention to the angel who visited him, and so sent three people to find someone named Simon Peter in Joppa. Meanwhile Peter has had a mind-boggling vision that revolutionizes his view of who is clean and unclean. The living God of Jesus, he learns, loves not only Jews, but all people. In God’s eyes no one is profane. God shows no partiality.

Cornelius’s search party finds Peter, and Peter returns to Caesarea where Cornelius’ whole family and many friends are waiting. Cornelius and Peter each recount their stories of God’s interventions in their lives. Peter offers a testimony that summarizes the gospel. While Peter is still speaking, the Holy Spirit, like water, is poured out on Cornelius and his clan, so that they speak in tongues and offer praise to God. They are then baptized.

This story summarizes the gospel in a nutshell: Jesus was put to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day. And this good news includes everyone, even people you may have believed (with Peter) were outside the pale, perpetually unclean, eternally damned. Yet another surprise from a grace-filled God. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! —Steven Bouma-Prediger

Prayer: God of all, open our eyes to the astounding reach of your all-encompassing love.