Thursday

07 May 2015

“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (v. 47)

Psalm: Psalm 3


Background

As Peter continues to preach to Cornelius and his family holy chaos descends upon proceedings. The passage tells us that Peter was still speaking, maybe even coming to that well-crafted illustration he had spent all morning on, when he is stopped by the Spirit's interruption.

The Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word, much to the surprise of those who had come with Peter. The signs of this outpouring are similar to those found in Acts 2, with reference to speaking in tongues and the praising of God. Peter can only react to what he sees by exclaiming "can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people".

It has taken Peter some time to get to this point where he can enter the house of a Gentile (non Jew) to speak to them and then affirm the need for them to be baptized in Jesus name. He has moved from a view of Jesus coming to save the Jews (Acts 2:14, 22, 29, 36) to this point where he senses God's bigger plan at work. For those "circumcised believers" with him this was all too much, they were astounded at what they saw happening (verse 45).

This astonishment reveals that many early followers of Jesus saw him as coming to the Jews only. For the Spirit to be shared with Gentiles was outside of this rigid understanding and was hard to take. Yet we today are still astounded when God does something different, when God works through someone that we believe he shouldn't. It is in these moments that God is often revealing to us the truth, breaking in to our limited understanding to show us the bigger picture.


To Ponder

  • Have you ever seen a church service stopped because God interrupted? What would you do? And how do you think you or others would feel?
  • In what ways do you think you limit what God can do and will bless?


Bible notes author: The Revd David Wynd

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