Sometimes it is good to raise a question about the 'why?'
Sometimes it is good to press into the reason something is done that you just don't understand. Like the tour stop at Caesarea Maritima on Israel's Mediterranean Sea. Why stop there anyway? I mean, I had been there three times and I could not figure it out!
It is true that it is a magnificent, picturesque seaport city built by Herod the Great in honor of Caesar Augustus in 22 BC, and while it served as the Roman capital of Israel until the third century AD, that simply did not stir a revival in my soul. Ya know what I'm saying?
And then it happened.
I read Acts 10 through Acts 11.18; then I read
it again in another translation, then another,
and still another. Finally I got it.
It was here in the seaport city of Caesarea that events occurred--God orchestrated events--that opened the door for the Gospel to go to the Gentiles. Before this time, before this military man, the only believers in Jesus were Jews.
To summarize the impactful passage, God speaks to Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian regiment in Caesarea (and of course, a Gentile), 'tells him to send for Simon Peter (who he does not know) in the town of Joppa down the coast about 40 miles. He obeys. He obeys, sends three of his men to fetch Peter. Acts 10.1-8
While the men are on the way, God speaks to Peter, telling him not to refrain from eating 'unclean' animals and 'not to call anything impure that God has made clean'. You gotta read it because God speaks to him in a vision - three different times! Point made. Acts 10.9-23 'Purity, Peter? I will be the judge of such matters', quoth the Lord.
Hang. with. me. here. please.
In Joppa, pictured below, the men tell Peter that Cornelius was visited by an angel, (verse 22), who told him to go get Peter so he could tell him something important; Peter obediently goes back to Caesarea with them. Read Acts 10.
In Acts 10.24-48, we read that Captain Cornelius has gathered a house full of folks in anticipation that Peter is going to willingly come back to Caesarea with his men to impart an important message. Peter arrives and does not disappoint. Yes, Sir, Brother Peter testifies ... he witnesses, simply telling what he had experienced, and what he knew of God's heart - not just for the Jew but for the Gentile. v. 34 'God does not show favoritism but accepts [those] from every nation ...'
And. Then. God. Moved. The Holy Spirit
came on all who heard the message;
after, they were baptized - must have been in those Mediterranean waters!
The first Gentiles become Christians!
Cornelius and his family were the first little Gentile Christian community in Caesarea. Perhaps you ought read the passage in Acts 10 through Acts 11.18 to notice one more thing: God is the master architect of timing. This changes everything!
Waiting for him to 'come through' in some way in your life?
Been praying for a while about this person or that thing,
thinking that God has not seemed to hear you?
Could be that he is working things out behind the scenes to
bring about his perfect plan in your life.
Either way, early on in the story of Christianity, we see it made crystal clear: the Christian message - salvation through Jesus Christ - is for all people. Oh, this is so good. So timely as well. At a time when many are trying to divide people on every level, Christianity draws them together.
Here's a great song, recorded on location in Caesarea:
Go ahead, ask the question . . . press in. Dig a little deeper. The answer is worthwhile!