You need: four pieces of paper, pens
Task: At the top of each piece of paper, write these headings: Favourite Food, Favourite Colour, Favourite Animal, Favourite Things to Do in your Free time.
Then write down some of your favourite things. Ask your parents, siblings or grandparents what their favourite things are and write them on the list. Are any the same? Are any different?
Reflect: What are some ways that people are alike? What are some ways that people are different?
Let’s keep thinking about our similarities and differences as we learn more about Peter and Cornelius.
What does the Bible say?
Cornelius stared at the angel. He became afraid and said, “What do you want, Lord?”
The angel said, “God has heard your prayers. He has seen what you give to the poor. And God remembers you. 5Send some men now to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon. Simon is also called Peter. Simon is staying with a man, also named Simon, who is a leatherworker. He has a house beside the sea.” Then the angel who spoke to Cornelius left. Cornelius called two of his servants and a soldier. The soldier was a religious man who worked for Cornelius. Cornelius explained everything to these three men and sent them to Joppa.
The next day as they came near Joppa, Peter was going up to the roof[a] to pray. It was about noon. Peter was hungry and wanted to eat. But while the food was being prepared, he had a vision. He saw heaven opened and something coming down. It looked like a big sheet being lowered to earth by its four corners. In it were all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds. 13 Then a voice said to Peter, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “No, Lord! I have never eaten food that is unholy or unclean.”
But the voice said to him again, “God has made these things clean. Don’t call them ‘unholy’!” This happened three times. Then the sheet was taken back to heaven.
While Peter was wondering what this vision meant, the men Cornelius sent had found Simon’s house. They were standing at the gate.
So Peter went down to the men. He said, “I am the man you are looking for. Why did you come here?”
They said, “A holy angel spoke to Cornelius, an army officer. He is a good man; he worships God. All the Jewish people respect him. The angel told Cornelius to ask you to his house so that he can hear what you have to say.” Peter asked the men to come in and spend the night.
The next day Peter got ready and went with them. Some of the brothers from Joppa joined him. On the following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them. He had called together his relatives and close friends.
Peter went on talking with Cornelius as they went inside. There Peter saw many people together. He said, “You people understand that it is against our Jewish law for a Jew to associate with or visit anyone who is not a Jew. But God has shown me that I should not call any person ‘unholy’ or ‘unclean.’
Cornelius said, “Four days ago, I was praying in my house. It was at this same time—three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, there was a man standing before me wearing shining clothes. He said, ‘Cornelius! God has heard your prayer. He has seen what you give to the poor. And God remembers you. So send some men to Joppa and ask Simon Peter to come. Peter is staying in the house of a man, also named Simon, who is a leatherworker. His house is beside the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and it was very good of you to come. Now we are all here before God to hear everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Peter began to speak: “I really understand now that to God every person is the same. God accepts anyone who worships him and does what is right. It is not important what country a person comes from. You know that God has sent his message to the people of Israel. That message is the Good News that peace has come through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lord of all people! You know what has happened all over Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached to the people about baptism. You know about Jesus from Nazareth. God made him the Christ by giving him the Holy Spirit and power. You know how Jesus went everywhere doing good. He healed those who were ruled by the devil, for God was with Jesus. We saw all the things that Jesus did in Judea and in Jerusalem. But they killed him by nailing him to a cross. Yet, on the third day, God raised Jesus to life and caused him to be seen.
He told us to preach to the people and to tell them that he is the one whom God chose to be the judge of the living and the dead. Everyone who believes in Jesus will be forgiven. God will forgive his sins through Jesus. All the prophets say this is true.”
While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given even to the non-Jewish people. These Jewish believers heard them speaking in different languages and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we did!” So Peter ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Decide which of the following words in bold are the right answer. The answers are at the end.
- Peter saw heaven open and something like a large sheet come down with all kinds of fruit / animals on it.
- Cornelius was a centurion or soldier in the Roman army. He feared God, gave to those in need and prayed / went to church.
- The voice Peter heard told him to kill and eat the animals. But Peter said he did not want to disobey God / his family.
- One of God’s angels told Cornelius to send men to Joppa to find Jesus / Peter.
- Peter left Joppa with the men to go to Jerusalem / Caesarea.
- Cornelius called together all his relatives and friends / everyone in the town.
- Peter told the people that God had shown him that he should speak to the Jews / Gentiles.
- Cornelius told Peter that he and all the people were ready to discuss / listen to what Peter had to say
- Peter told Cornelius and all the people about Jesus / the Jewish faith.
- Cornelius and those gathered were afraid / baptised.
Check your answers at the bottom of the page!
Why do you think this event was so important?
Up until Peter had his vision and met Cornelius, Peter knew it was against Jewish law to meet with or visit a Gentile person (someone who was not a Jew). So Peter also thought he couldn’t tell a Gentile about Jesus. The only people who knew about Jesus were the Jews. But through his vision and meeting Cornelius, God showed Peter that he should tell Gentiles about Jesus. God helped Peter know that the good news of Jesus is for everyone, because God wants all people to be saved.
How did Peter show that the good news of Jesus is for everyone?
Peter went to Cornelius’s home, even though he as a Roman soldier and a Gentile. He told them all about Jesus and said that they should be baptised. He stayed with them for a few days.
What does this story tell us about how God wants us to live today?
God wants everyone to be saved, not just people from a certain country, or who look a certain way, or dress a certain way, or people with a certain skin colour. The good news about Jesus is for everyone, and we should be willing to meet and spend time with people who are the same as us and people who are different form us. For in God’s eyes, we are all the same; his children who he loves very much.
Choose a challenge!
Peter learned that the good news of Jesus is for everyone. As followers of Jesus, we are learning that too! Decide how you will show that the good news of Jesus is for everyone. Choose at least one of these challenges to put this into practice this week, or choose your own challenge.
Write down your challenge on a piece of paper and decorate it. Keep the paper somewhere to remind you of your challenge. Once you have completed the challenge, write down what you did.
Your paper could look like this:
Some suggested challenges:
Think about your list at the start about the ways in which people are the same and different. Then pray this prayer:
Thank you God that you love all of us, whether we are different or the same. Thank you that the good news of Jesus is for everyone. Please help me to carry out my challenge this week so that I can help those around me to get to know you too. Amen.