Sermon in a nutshell: Acts 11:1-18 “Even to Gentiles God has Granted Repentance that Leads to Life!”
For the last three weeks, we have read the story of Peter and Cornelius. Then here again we have the same story told in front of the critics! The Bible is a very efficient book and says usually a little about everything. When we have this story told again and again, this is an unusual emphasis! Another story like this is Paul’s meeting with the risen Jesus (Acts 9:1-19; 22:3-21; 26:4-23). In other words, this story is as important as Paul’s conversion story. We can compare them together.
Paul was the protector of the Jewish tradition. Peter was the protector of the Jewish tradition.
Paul met the risen Jesus and was converted. Peter heard the voice from heaven and was converted.
Paul was called for world mission. Peter confirmed that world mission was God’s will.
As we know, Peter and Paul are two pillars of the first church in the first century. Peter was one of the most important disciples of Jesus and Paul was the main persecutor and opponent of the first Christians. However, God called both of them to confirm one thing: World Mission. God wanted to spread the Gospel to all over the world beyond the boundary of the Jewish community. This was also recovering the original mission and call of the Jewish people:
1) When Abraham was called God promised that Abraham “will be a blessing…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through” Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3).
2) When God brought the Israelites from Egypt, this was what God promised to Moses: “You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Priests are the ones who pray for others. Holy ones are the one who sacrifice their rights for others. That was the destiny of the called ones.
As the descendants of Abraham we are also called to be a blessing for others. We are called to pray for others. We are called to sacrifice what we have to share it with others! That is our identity!
Then what is it that we want to share? The Bible says it clearly: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In this verse, we can see that it is “the world” that God so loved and it is the “eternal life” that God wants to give to the world. God wants to give eternal life to the world and calls us to share this Good News with the world.
Because this is an important message, God called both Paul and Peter from the two opposing groups to confirm the same message. The purpose of going beyond the boundary of our traditional law was to share Good News with the people outside of our tradition. Are we willing to go out and share the Good News with other nations in the world?
- Who is the one that you would treat as “a pagan” that God loves so much?
- When and how are you going to share the Good News of Jesus with the person?