And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold…
Here we have a Conservative Jew and a Liberal Gentile. The Jew wants to keep things as they are. He is quite content to preach Christ to his countrymen. The Gentile, on the other hand, has come to feel that all truth is not confined to the systems of his fathers. He has heard of Christ, and wants to know more of Him. So the narrative shows how, in the providence of God, these opposite men meet at the Cross, and there forget their differences as they learned that God is no respecter of persons. Let us consider —
I. A GOOD PREACHER.
1. Opinions greatly differ on what constitutes a good minister of Jesus Christ. Some say educate your men; others say you will educate all the fire out of them. Some say that the minister must take an active part in social movements; others, that he must do nothing of the kind. Some think he must give his strength to visitation; others, that he must be strong in the pulpit. Some leave a man's ministry because he is too noisy; others, because he is too quiet. Some object to men who do not rush to the door to shake hands with everybody; others object to such familiarity.
2. But there was one thing about Peter that all may imitate — he was a man of prayer, as every good preacher, teacher, Christian must be. Christ Himself was. Nothing great or good can the man of God expect without prayer. While Elijah prayed the fire fell; in answer to prayer Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh's dreams; while the little Church prayed at Pentecost the Holy Ghost came down; while the disciples prayed Peter was released from prison; and as he prayed on the housetop God gave him the vision. You cannot preach, but you can pray, and that will make the weak strong.
II. THE REMARKABLE CONGREGATION (ver. 33). Observe —
1. They were all in time. No notice was put up in the porch, saying, "You are requested not to enter during prayer." No one disturbed the singing or preaching. We are not told that anybody came in knocking down half a dozen hymn books and attracting attention to the last new bonnet.
2. No one went to sleep. Judged by modern practice that was remarkable. Our fathers must have been wakeful people, for they would listen to sermons two hours' length in straight-backed pews. Now the pews are so shaped and furnished as to invite sleep.
3. They were anxious to hear. That, too, was remarkable. How vastly different would be our worship if we came in that expectant condition! How helpful would be the preacher's word! Once a week worship, empty seats, and deserted churches would be things of the past.
III. THE VERY STRIKING SERMON.
1. It was very short; one could have wished it longer. The main objection to long sermons is that the quality is not in proportion.
2. It was full of Christ, although the Name appears only twice. We should not be always repeating the Name, but all our sermons and lessons should be as full of Christ as they can carry; and our daily life and conduct too. You need not forever carry a Bible in your hand. When your little one draws a cat she is obliged to say so underneath, or no one would recognise it; but by and by she will draw what will describe itself. So all should be able to recognise the Master in us. "Let your light so shine," etc. So let it be with your lessons. Christ is to be your diamond; set it as you like, but be sure it is seen.
3. One which declared God's impartiality (vers. 34, 35). "God cares for lowly toilers," etc.
IV. THE GLORIOUS EFFECTS (ver. 44). We learn that —
1. Peter did not labour in vain. He had immediate results; you may not; but wait God's good time.
2. The people did not hear in vain. How could they, listening as they did.
(G. Leach, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,