I’ve always wondered at the placement of this lesson in the Bible. I’m always tempted as I plan our Sunday School lessons to switch it to before Paul’s conversion, because it feels like a break in the narrative.
But, as I was rereading the material I realized, it’s not a break in the narrative. It’s a necessary pause before you get into Paul’s work.
What does Peter and Cornelius teach us?
Aside from being free to eat as much bacon as we want? For which I praise God and thank him with the eating of much spaghetti carbonara.
No, that’s just my personal happy takeaway from this lesson. The big takeaway is God isn’t just for the Jews. I know for us that’s not a big deal, but in Peter’s time that was HUGE.
I mean stop the presses, let everyone know this life-shattering story, shout it from the rooftops, and then head over to the mountains.
Previously, the gospel had been taken to the Samaritans, that was strange enough, but at least they were still Jews, if only in name. That one Ethiopian could be an anomaly. But, this is a Roman, the same people who oppressed them, and the same people who killed Jesus.
Surely, God didn’t mean this? But He did, and that’s the whole point behind God showing the vision three times, and then delivering the centurion to Peter’s door. He meant this, and He was going to make sure Peter got it.
We need this step before Paul goes off on wild adventures converting half the Roman world. This is why Luke takes a break from Paul’s story to tell us this.
When God had Peter talk to Cornelius that was a huge challenge for him. What challenge has God called you to?
I didn’t really have any grand activities or games planned for this lesson. You could go through and find the animals the Jews were now free to eat, or you could make a meal out of them or something, but it wasn’t appealing to me right then.
Instead, I challenged my kids to think about what God might call them to they were uncomfortable to do.
At first they came up with very generic silly answers that were nice Sunday School answers (and no I don’t remember the exact answers, just I made them throw out the first sheet).
Their second attempts were better. Those were personal answers. Our church is going through a building campaign, and they were worried God might call them to sell their toys. Or share them with another kid. And it wasn’t the idea of generic toys that upset them. They’re actually kind of excited to try selling them to get money.
They were worried about their favorite animals, the ones they cuddle with every night. But, they were willing to admit that might happen. I was rather proud of them as they started to talk about it. In case you’re wondering my worries of what God calls me to do usually involve going places without plumbing or where they expect me to eat odd things. I like my comforts.
Peter and Cornelius resources
- Peter and Cornelius Sunday School lesson
- Peter’s Dream lesson
- Buck Denver Asks: What’s In The Bible? Volume Eleven – Spreading The Good News!
- The rest of Acts lessons
Next week, or whenever I can find my missing pictures (and it better be soon because I’m teaching this lesson in 2 weeks), you’ll get to hear about Paul’s first missionary journey.