He ordered they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:48)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Cornelius was a Roman Soldier, a centurion. A centurion was in charge over Jesus’ execution. The Romans weren’t just non-Jewish (Gentiles), they oppressed the Jews. But Cornelius didn’t just live and work in Caesarea, He worshipped there! (Acts 10:2) He worshiped Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. He was a proselyte—a non-circumcised Gentile who trusted in Yahweh.
He may be top of the food chain within the Italian Regiment, but clearly he’s second-class within God’s Kingdom. That’s what many Christians, including Peter, thought back then. You needed to become Jewish before you could become a Christian, at least, a full Christian.
But Peter “comes to the conclusion that God shows no partiality.” The prophets preached this. So did Jesus. He did in a vision to Peter (Acts 10:9-15), but it’s also why Jesus gave His marching orders to preach repentance and forgiveness to all nations (Luke 24:47) and to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching (Matthew 28:19-20).
Peter preaches. The Spirit comes, even upon Gentiles. Peter gives his orders: “Baptize them.” He got his orders from Jesus, and now we can rejoice that there’s peace between God and all nations.
Cornelius shows us the truth of the Gospel—that there’s no second-class citizen in Jesus’ Kingdom. But we think there are those who are second-class in the Kingdom—or shouldn’t even be in the Kingdom!—because of what they’ve done or who they are or were. But the real truth is this: you shouldn’t just be a second-class citizen, you shouldn’t even be in the Kingdom because of what you’ve done!
But you are in the Kingdom. The same way Peter is. The same way Cornelius is. It’s all through Jesus. It’s all through the Spirit. Jesus really did die for all: for Peter, the circumcised (Acts 10:44), Cornelius, you, and me. The Spirit is for all, too. In the font, in the Word, in the Blood, the Spirit is made yours, He makes Jesus yours, and “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name” (Acts 10:43). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
To His disciples spoke the Lord, “Go out to ev’ry nation, And bring to them My living Word And this My invitation: Let ev’ryone abandon sin And come in true contrition To be baptized and thereby win Full pardon and remission And heavenly bliss inherit.” (To Jordan Came the Christ, our Lord, LSB 406:5)