About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. (
Imagine what it would be like to be blind from birth. You have never seen a fiery sunset, never observed the mountains in their dazzling palette of autumn colors, never witnessed a beautiful butterfly flitting among blooming flowers on gossamer wings, and never gazed on the gleam of a child’s eyes and glow of their smile on Christmas morning. Then you have an operation. The doctor removes your bandages. Your pulse quickens as light floods in. You lose your breath, overwhelmed by the explosion of color. Can you imagine what joy you would feel?
On a spiritual level that is akin to the miracle of
Acts 10. The Gentiles who were blind to truth—sitting in
the darkness of sin—would come into the light of God’s love! This marked a breakthrough moment in earth’s
history—the dawn of a new day. Hope
arose and its brilliant promise through the Gospel now illuminated the possibility
of anyone, anywhere coming to faith! Oh
God had been at work, preparing a sinner and a soul-winner simultaneously. Cornelius was a religious man, but not a regenerate man. He was a sincere man, but not a saved man. The Holy Spirit was at work, however, in His heart, drawing him to something more, something else—Someone—namely the Savior. Miles away, God was breaking down the prejudice in the heart of Simon Peter. The old fisherman was going to be a fisher of men—and this prize catch would come from a different stream than he had ever cast the Gospel before!
Why didn’t God just use the angel to communicate the Gospel while the celestial messenger was at Cornelius’ home? Why didn’t God Himself not speak audibly to Cornelius and call him to salvation in a vision as He spoke to Peter? God, in His providence has chosen saved sinners to reach out to the unsaved. He uses vessels of flesh and blood—full of frailty and marked by their own failures—to fill with His love and then pour that love out upon others.
What is a Gospel witness? Peter proclaimed Jesus. If you promote the church, people can find fault with the church. If you point to the preacher, people can find flaws in the pastor. If you push the programs, people can find reasons they don’t like those programs. But, if we point to Jesus, none can legitimately find fault in Him! He is the Light of the World—and we must bring people to encounter Him. Then, as old John Newton would sing,
I once was lost but now am found,
WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE.