Cornelius was high-ranking Roman Officer. He commanded 480 soldiers, plus a sizable administrative staff. He was stationed at Caesarea, the seat of Roman government in Palestine. One of his primary assignments was the protection of the Governor and his family, which means that he held an important position in the community.
But neither his position nor his power is what made Cornelius stand out to the Lord. Rather, it was his compassion, his prayer life and his commitment to making life better for those around him.
The Lord spoke to Cornelius in a vision and told him, in so many words, “I’m impressed with what I’ve seen out of you thus far. But as good and as generous and as prayerful and as loving as you’ve been, you need something more. You’ve done fine up to this point, but I’m ready now to give you what you need to bring it all together.”
If we don’t have Jesus, then regardless of what we do have, it’s not enough. We can do all the right things, say all the right words, be a part of all the right organizations, but if we don’t have Jesus, we don’t have enough. All the other stuff is good intentions, and good intentions have their place. But first place can only belong to One, and that One is Jesus.
The Lord told Cornelius, “I’m going to send someone your way to help you find the thing that you’re missing. I have a servant Joppa, whose name is Peter. He knows something that you don’t know. He has something that you don’t have. He’s going to tell you about Somebody that you need to meet for yourself. I know where you’re trying to go, but you can’t get there until you know Me through my Son, Jesus Christ.”
As we go today, our purpose is to be God’s Peter. Our purpose is to be God’s voice crying to a lost and dying humanity. Our purpose is to tell searching people that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our purpose is to tell Cornelius about Jesus—Son of the living God, born of a virgin, walked the dusty trails of Palestine, healed the sick, fed the hungry, raised the dead, loved the unlovable, reached the unreachable, died in our place on Friday, buried in a borrowed tomb, resurrected early on a Sunday morning, ascended back into Glory, seated at the right hand of God, interceding on our behalf, coming back again to receive us to Himself, that where He is there we will be also. Our purpose is to tell Cornelius that prayers alone won’t do it, charity alone won’t do it, good works alone won’t do it. But there is one Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). That at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow—of things in Heaven and things in earth and things under the earth—and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all to the glory of God, the Father (Philippians 2:10, 11).