Peter gets grilled for going to a Gentile’s home and baptizing him. But more difficult than Peter’s grilling is what Cornelius will face now that he is baptized. In baptism, he has sworn allegiance to a new Lord and Savior. Roman Emperor reserved the right to the titles of Lord and Savior. The words “Jesus is Lord and Savior” were fighting words. The Roman Empire begins to be weary of Christ followers and eventually persecutes them. Roman Empire was very tolerant of religion. They wanted all their subjects to hold onto their religion, as long as they saw it as a private or cultural matter. The problem with Christians was that they declared Jesus was the Lord and Savior of the World.
Now Cornelius will have to wrestle with two lords and laws. Luke doesn’t follow Cornelius’ story but we can conjecture from the courage he has to gather everyone to hear a Jewish teacher, and from his receiving the Holy Spirit. He stayed faithful to Jesus as Lord.
When Paul writes a letter to Rome, there are already Christians there. Even in Caesar's own household. Cornelius, I am sure, had a part in that.
To be baptized is not a simple matter. To live out our baptism demands our obedience in all because Jesus is the Emperor/Lord of all the Earth. How we hire people. how we use our money, how we vote, how we choose our career, all of it is under the Lordship of Christ.
- After you gave your life to Christ, what were some of the first ethical issues you faced? How did you deal with them?
- Imagine you are Cornelius. Next time you are called to Rome and stand before a statue of the Emperor. Do you bow or not?
- What are some areas in your life you must submit to Christ’s Lordship this week?