“But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” Acts 10:26 (KJV)
Here comes the dazzling simplicity of these great men of old, whom God raised from dust by line of mercy! He brought them into a good and large land and gave great names unto them, among men!
Cornelius invited Peter on the instruction of the Almighty God, and the apostle came following these unknown gentiles into the abode of Cornelius. The way these servants introduced Cornelius to Peter, shows that Cornelius would be a popular man. Hence, I could call him a great man.
However, when the Angel that visited Cornelius informed him of the need to call for Simon, surnamed Peter, I think Cornelius had a good reason to think that this Simon must be more than an ordinary man, such that the Angel would dare not say what only him (Peter) had the authority to say. So, when Peter arrived, the Bible says:
“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.” Acts 10:25 (KJV)
Though Cornelius was a centurion, a captain of the prestigious Italian Band of the Roman Army, yet he did not salute Peter the way a soldier would salute his superior officer or an important person. He saluted Peter, the way a subject salutes the king! I wonder why. It is not common for soldiers to greet this way. This shows that this man held Peter in high esteem in his heart. Cornelius did not just fall down at his feet; he actually worshipped Peter!
Peter could have taken this ‘honour’ done to him, to be in recognition of the grace and the anointing he carried or as a means to show to the world that the Roman power meant nothing, after all. He could have taken it to show to all that there is greatness in being a servant of God. He could have gladly taken it as a confirmation that a preacher is above a soldier! But alas, he did not!
If a king decides to prostrate for me, won’t I take it gladly as a proof that God is doing something great in my life? Won’t I even wish that a governor should stand up or prostrate to greet me? While it won’t be wrong for such to come in an unforced atmosphere, yet I must look at Peter and understand the standard of living required of me, if I will be what God wants me to be and stay long in it.
CHECKING ON PETER
The Bible says Peter took Cornelius up and asked him to stand up. Peter then went on to introduce himself to Cornelius in a way that would be strange to Cornelius, which could even make the centurion to doubt the integrity or authenticity of the ministry of Peter. The reason Peter gave for rejecting the offering of Cornelius was: “I myself also am a man.”
Why should Peter say this, at least he should even put God in his introduction and say, “I am a man of God”? But to simply say he was a man is demeaning! But I think He said this, because Cornelius would already be thinking that, for the Angel not to say whatever it was that Cornelius ought to hear and had to refer him to Peter could ordinarily mean that Peter was more than an Angel. This is a trap into which many ministers of the gospel have fallen into today.
Preachers of this age love honour and they go to the extent of asking for it. They count it a great offence when honour is not freely and fully given to them; they make it look as though God is second to them. The way the ‘subjects’ of some so-called men of God worship them is worrisome! It is unfortunate that ordinary men now call themselves what God does not call them.
But I need to examine or explore Peter a little, in order for me to appreciate what he said of himself, which Cornelius may not appreciate so much.
At the Sea:
This was the Peter (and only him) who once walked on the Sea at the command of Jesus. No one ever tried it among the brethren but Peter did and it is on record:
“And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” Matthew 14:28-32 (KJV)
At the Upper Room:
This same Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost and accurately explained the Word of God to those who wondered at what happened to the disciples on that day. That day, 3,000 souls were added to the Church!
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:37-41 (KJV)
At the Beautiful Gate:
Here was Peter, who, at the Beautiful Gate, raised a man born lame from his mother’s womb! He caused no great stir among the people that day, as all of them gathered at the Porch called Solomon’s, looking, with great amazement, at Peter and John, with the healed man.
Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Acts 3:2-8 (KJV)
At the Porch called Solomon’s
It was great at the Porch called Solomon’s as this Peter preached and 5,000 souls responded to the message he preached at one time!
“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day:for it was now eventide.
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” Acts 4:1-4 (KJV)
At Council Chamber:
Peter spoke with much boldness before the Sanhedrin because of the lame man that was healed and the leaders took knowledge of him and John.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” Acts 4:13-14 (KJV)
On the Streets:
It came to a time, that each time the people perceived that Peter would be passing through a street, that those who had sick folks at home would study the location of the Sun to determine where the shadow of Peter would fall so that they could lay their sick folks on couches and spread them on the streets so that his passing shadow might fall on them! And as many as his shadow fell on them got healed of their infirmities!
“Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits:and they were healed every one.” Acts 5:15-16 (KJV)
Peter at Lydda brought Aeneas out of his eight-year-old palsy and the man stood up immediately! The whole city of Lydda turned to the LORD under the ministry of Peter. The Bible says:
“And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
And there he found a certain man named AEneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
And Peter said unto him, AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole:arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.”
Acts 9:32-36 (KJV)
Dorcas came back to life through the hand of Peter at Joppa.
“And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.” Acts 9:38-42 (KJV)
The question is how can a man of this status say, “I myself also am a man”? Was he not, at the least, a man of God? Was he not a great man of God? Was he not a mighty man of God? Was he not more than a man?
However, God did not make the mistake of sending someone who is more than a man, which even Christ was, to Cornelius! All that God needed was (and still is) a man, just a man! Nothing more!
Help me, LORD, to remain just a man, irrespective of what flows through me! Make me LORD, only, just, a channel not a Chancellor or a Chancery! Only a pipe not the Piper! Only a gift I want to be not the Giver! I want to simply be a lamb, not the Balm!
Why should men worship me? Why would men give me due honour and I would accept it, when such is still not due on this side of eternity to receive? Why would I be so blind not to see that I am a man and only a man, not different from others?
Help me now to live beyond what You do through me, LORD! Help me not to see what You do through me as personal credentials, to flaunt before men. Help me not to convert such works into subtle instruments to mow men down into the worship of me and cause them to allude to me what rightfully and eternally belongs to my Master.
(Segun Ariyo, Ibadan. 30thJuly, 2015.)