This Week's Story

A Jewish fisherman and a Roman soldier, Peter and Cornelius, discover that God has no favorites.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

No Favorites!

“Marcus, get my two house servants.” I moved swiftly. Cornelius is used to prompt obedience. What else would you expect from a Roman centurion in the world’s most powerful military! I’m proud to be his aide.

The servants came and Cornelius told us, “This afternoon I was terrified by an angel. I was praying and suddenly an angel stood in front of me. The angel’s clothing blinded me. I felt tongue-tied and asked, ‘What’s happening?’

“The angel told me, ‘God has heard your prayers and seen your generous giving to the poor. He has a message for you. Send men to Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter. He’s at the house of Simon, a leatherworker, who lives by the seashore. Ask Simon Peter to visit you.’ Then the angel left.

“Marcus, you men find Simon Peter. Ask him to come to my home.”

Soon we left for Joppa. As we travelled I thought about Cornelius. Though he’s a Roman, he believes as the Jews do, that there is only one true god. I also believe that to be true.

The Jews’ religion is very different from the one I was taught as a child. My family worships a long list of gods and goddesses. My brother prays to Mars, the god of war. My mom prays to Juno, the wife of Jupiter. My dad’s a sailor and prays to Neptune, god of the sea.

Cornelius is very devoted to God. He prays regularly and he’s not embarrassed about it, though he’s a Roman soldier and loyal to Caesar.

I’m curious what will happen when we see Simon Peter. He’s a Jew and we are not. We’ve reached his house gate. He’s coming and smiling. “Gentlemen, I’m the one you are looking for. What is the purpose of your visit?” We told Peter about Cornelius’ vision and that God wanted Peter to visit Cornelius.

Simon Peter’s reply was surprising. “While you men were coming here, I was praying on the rooftop. I had a vision. I saw the sky open like a stage curtain. A large sheet was lowered at all four corners and came down in front of me. I looked into it and saw animals, birds, and fish that as a Jew I’m not allowed to eat. They all were what we call ‘unclean.’

“A voice told me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill these and eat them.’

“‘No, Lord! I have never eaten food forbidden by our Jewish laws.’

“‘Peter, whatever I say is acceptable to eat, do not refuse.’

“After that the vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet went up. I didn’t know what it meant. When you men came to the house gate, God made it clear to me that He sent you to me.

Peter invited us to stay overnight at his house.

The next morning Peter and some of his Christian friends went with us to Cornelius. When he saw Peter, he fell down on the floor.

Peter pulled him up and said, “I’m a human being just like you. As a Jew I have been taught that coming into the home of anyone who isn’t a Jew, makes me unclean. God has shown me that I should never think anyone is unclean.”

Cornelius replied, “Thank you for coming. We wait to hear the message the Lord has given you.”

Peter declared, “I see clearly that God has no favorites. In every country He accepts those who seek Him and do what is right. The good news is that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”

This is Barbara Steiner with an account of the first gentile Christian, a soldier. Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

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