Cornelius, a Roman centurion, lived in Caesarea shortly after the Lord Jesus. Although he was a soldier, he and his family believed in God, prayed and respected the moral teachings of the Jews. But he had never fully committed his life to God by being baptised. Why? Perhaps he hadn’t heard about baptism yet, or maybe he thought he was not good enough. We find Cornelius’s story in the Bible in Acts 10 and it is a wonderful story of spiritual development.
Having heard his prayers, God sent an angel to tell Cornelius to find Peter (one of Jesus’s original disciples) who was now living nearby, in Joppa. So Cornelius sent messengers to find Peter and bring him to Caesarea. At just the same time God was also speaking with Peter, who wasn’t in the greatest headspace at this point. By bringing Cornelius and Peter together, God was able to help and strengthen them both. As always, God works in wonderful ways.
When Peter and Cornelius met, Peter told the story of Jesus and explained the gospel message - the most wonderful message ever told. Together they worshipped and prayed and each person present received the blessing of God’s power. That night Cornelius and all his household were baptised.
We can learn so much from this…
God loves you and hears all your prayers. Baptism is His divinely appointed way of committing ourselves to Christ and even though Cornelius was a very good man, baptism was still necessary to save him. When we are baptised God wants to see our life aligned as closely as possible to Jesus’s life.
Even those who lived at the time of Jesus sometimes struggled with faith. Peter spent years with Jesus yet he still had to sort things out as you’ll see when you read the chapter. We all struggle as God and His son know. But they are on our side and committing ourselves to Christ in baptism has great benefits. Cornelius was baptised that very night having believed and accepted the story of Jesus. We should be thinking along the same lines.