Scripture: Acts 10:34-43
In the tenth chapter of Acts, Luke introduces his audience to a man by the name of Cornelius. Cornelius was an Italian centurion. Verse 2 of this chapter tells his audience that Cornelius was a devout man who feared God, always prayed to God and was generous to people. Cornelius has a vision one day where an angel of the Lord says to him that God has taken notice of his prayers and his almsgiving .
God notices our prayers and our deeds. No prayer to God goes unnoticed. Prayer is not just some spiritual discipline only to make us feel good. God hears and God answers prayers. No good deed on behalf of God goes unnoticed. Whatever we do, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 25:40, to the least of these, we do it unto Him.
The angel tells Cornelius that his prayers and his almsgiving has been noticed or come before God. Then the angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter who was in Joppa staying at Simon the tanner’s house. The next day Cornelius did as the angel of God instructed him and sent two of his most trusted soldiers to Joppa for Peter. As God was preparing Cornelius for Peter, God was also preparing Peter for Cornelius. About the sixth hour, Peter went up to the housetop to pray. As he was praying, he became very hungry, but continued praying so much so that he fell into a trance.
While in the trance, he has a vision about the Jewish dietary law regarding meat that was “common or unclean.” In the vision, Peter hears a voice telling him to rise and eat, and three times saying what God has cleansed was not to be called common. As he was contemplating the meaning of the vision, the soldiers that Cornelius had sent to Joppa made their way to Simon’s house (v.18). As he further contemplates the meaning of the vision, the Spirit spoke to him and tells him to go with the men who had come for him. The next morning they get up and go to Caesarea to Cornelius’ house.
When they arrive at Cornelius’ house, he tells them about how he was praying four days prior and how the angel told him to send for Peter and how Peter would tell him the things that God commanded. God’s command, according to Peter, was that they have a resurrection witness. God, he says, was no respecter of person and accepts persons of all nations if they fear God and did the will of God). God accepts those, Peter tells Cornelius, who believe what God has done for the children of Israel in Jesus Christ (v.36). When Israel’s story becomes their story, they would have a resurrection witness.
You can’t have a story to tell until you meet the story teller. When you meet the story teller, He will give you a blessed assurance and you can sing: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.”
When you meet the story teller, you will have a story to tell: you will have a resurrection witness. A resurrection witness proclaims Jesus as Lord of all. Jesus Christ has authority over everything. He is Lord of the creation and the commandments. All of creation is subject to His authority. The winds and the waves are subject to His authority. The sun moon, and stars are subject to His authority. Winter, summer, spring, and fall are subject to His authority. All of creation is subject to his authority.
All of the commandments are subject to His authority. He came not to destroy the law, He said in Matthew 5:17, but to fulfill the law. Jesus is Lord of the law and He is Lord of the Sabbath. A resurrection witness proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
Then, a resurrection witness proclaims Jesus as Lord of every situation. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power (v. 38). In the power of the Holy Ghost, Jesus went about doing good; healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him. Jesus is Lord of sin, sickness and demoniac spirits.
Jesus healed a paralytic of his paralysis (Luke 5:16). Jesus stopped a funeral procession and raised a widow’s son from the dead. Jesus healed many infirmities, and plagues, and cast out evil spirits and gave sight to the blind (Luke 7:21). Jesus casted out a legion of devils from a Gadarene man and sent them into a herd of pigs that ran into the lake (Luke 8:26).
A woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years touched the hem of his garment and her issue dried up (Luke 8:40). Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus’ a ruler of the synagogue from the dead (Luke 8:49), all because God was with him. A resurrection witness proclaims that Jesus has authority over every situation because He is Lord of every situation.
And then a resurrection witness proclaims Jesus even as Lord of death. Peter says that they are witnesses to how the Jews slew Jesus and hung him on a tree and how on the third day, God raised Him up and showed Him to those who had been with Him (vv.39-41). Jesus is Lord even over death because He is Lord of death.Death was not all that it was made out to be. It was the natural end of earthly life and never meant to be a force of destruction. But that’s what death had come to mean before Jesus died on Calvary. Death had become a bully and a force of destruction. A resurrection witness proclaims Jesus is even as Lord of death because death wasn’t all that it was made out to be.
When I was in high school, there was a bully in our school who had a reputation of being a pretty good fighter. He went around school bullying everybody and taking from others whatever he wanted – their lunch, their lunch money, their sneakers and their sweaters or jackets. One day in our Physical Education class, we were in the gymnasium playing basketball and he started his bullying tactics with a guy who would eventually become my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law had no reputation of being a good fighter, but we all knew that he was very strong.
Unlike the other guys who backed down whenever the bully confronted them, my brother-in-law stood up to him. We all thought he was crazy challenging the bully, but finally somebody stood up to him. Not only did he stand up to him, but when the fight started, my brother-in-law beat him pretty good. Everybody in the gymnasium that day discovered that the bully wasn’t all he was made out to be.
That’s what Jesus did to death. He stood up against the bullying of death. His death on the cross was a substitution and a propitiation for our sins and His resurrection from the dead was tangible evidence of God’s vindication of his righteousness. Death isn’t all it’s made out to be. Jesus is Lord of death. When he got up on the third day morning, he got up with all power in his hand.
O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting is death is sin and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:55-57).
Tell somebody how they marched Him from judgment hall to judgment hall. Tell somebody how they nailed His hands and pierced His side. Tell somebody how they stretched Him wide and hung Him high. Tell somebody how He stayed dead for three long days, and tell somebody how early on the third day, He got up with all power in His hand. Tell somebody that one of these old days, He’s coming back again. Tell somebody you don’t know when and you don’t know where He’s coming, but be ready when He comes. Hallelujah!
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin Calloway is the senior pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 S. Western Avenue in Los Angeles.