Second Reading: Acts 10:34-38
Why Does God Accept Us?
34 Peter started to speak. "Now, I truly understand that God does not show favorites," Peter said. 35 "God accepts everyone from any nation who loves him and does good!
36-37 You know the message God sent to his people. This message announced the Good News that people can find true peace with God when they believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord of everyone and everything! The message began in Galilee after the ministry of John the Baptist. And it spread throughout Judea!
38 This is core the message: Jesus of Nazareth. He is the one God anointed with his Spirit and his power. He is the one who showed everyone God was with him. As he traveled around the countryside, Jesus did good and healed those under the power of the devil."
34 Having opened his mouth, Peter said, "In truth, I seize (the thought) that God is not a receiver of faces, 35 but among any nation, the (one) fearing him and doing righteous (acts) is acceptable to him. 36 The word [which] he sent to the sons of Israel, announcing the Good News of peace through JESUS CHRIST, this (ONE) is the LORD of all, 37 you know (this word) the (one) having become by word (of mouth) throughout the entire (area) of Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 JESUS of Nazareth, just as God anointed him in the Holy Spirit and power, who went throughout (the areas) doing good and healing all the (ones) having come under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
10:34 "God is not a receiver of faces" In royal courts, the king would receive the presence (i.e., the "faces") of those in his court. "Facing the king" was a sign of respect. And a sign of one seeking favor. Luke meant this second meaning. God was not like a king who received the "face" of those he favored. In other words, God was impartial.
10:36-38 This unwieldy sentence can be divided into two sections: the spread of the Good News (10:36-37) and its content (10:38). In his speech, Peter assumed his audience already knew the "word" (i.e., "logos" in Greek; "message" in this context) that spread from Galilee to Judea after the ministry of the Baptist. This message spread by "word" of mouth (i.e., "rayma" in Greek).
The context of the message (sent off by a colon at the end of 10:37) was simple: Jesus of Nazareth. He was the one God anointed with the Spirit and power. He was the one who proved God was with him on his mobile ministry through his healing. In this context, Peter presented the healing ministry of Jesus as spiritual warfare with the Devil himself.
10:36 "the sons of Israel" were the faithful Jews, the true descendants of Israel.
10:38 "healing all the (ones) having come under the power of the devil" The translation of the verb "having come under that power" is weak. The Greek verb inferred the devil exercised and "lorded" power over those under his control. In this context, the concept of healing meant something more than just exorcism. Sickness and disease were seen as the acts of control by the Evil One. Healing cast off the lordship of Satan.
Why does God accept us? Why does he want us close to him? Simply because he sent his Son to us!
This short section from Acts could be divided into three sections: Peter's reaction to the message of Cornelius, his summary of how the Good News has spread, his preaching about Jesus.
As a lead up to the first section, Peter had a vision that questioned kosher diet rules (10:9-16). About the same time, Cornelius, a Roman centurion who could be described as a "righteous Gentile," received a message from God that told him his prayers had been answered; he was to send men for Peter (10:1-8). When the men fetched Peter, he traveled with them to the house of the soldier. At that point, Peter and Cornelius compared notes about their visions (10:26-33). Peter realized that God's salvation was universal. And the centurion was ready to become a follower of the Messiah.
The second section merely reported what was already known. Jesus had a reputation that buzzed throughout Palestine. But what was that reputation?
The third section answered the question. And it answered the question of God's intentions. The answer was simple: Jesus of Nazareth. God "anointed" (i.e., chose and empowered) this Jesus with the Spirit (in context, the Spirit and power are synonymous). He used God's Spirit to show everyone God was with him. As he traveled in his ministry, Jesus healed and, in doing so, overturned the realm of evil.
Why did God accept us? Because he wanted to show us his face in the person of his Son, Jesus the Christ. When we see God's face in Jesus, we truly know that he accepts us and loves us. We are his.
Look at the image of Jesus. What does that image tell you about God and his intentions? Do you feel love and accepted by God when you look upon the face of Jesus? Explain.