The Bible tells us about a city named Caesarea. Built by Herod in 20 B.C., and named for Augustus Caesar, it was located on the Mediterranean Sea, north of Joppa. One of the essential qualifications for a Roman city was running water, so the city’s aqueducts were a critical part of its design. For a Roman city, a well was insufficient as a source of water for its citizens.
Jesus made reference to a well while talking with a Samaritan woman. He said, “‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (John 4:13-14)
A person in need of our Lord’s water was living in Caesarea. Cornelius was a centurion in the Italian Regiment. Though not Jewish, he and his family were devout and God fearing. He began to access the water by sending to Joppa for Peter the Apostle. A Jew would not normally enter the house of a Roman centurion, a Gentile. But Peter was open to the leading of God’s Spirit. When Peter and his friends arrived at the home of Cornelius the Apostle asked him why he was brought there. “Cornelius answered: ‘Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea. So I sent for you immediately and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.’” (Acts 10:30-33)
“Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.’” (Acts 10:34-36) Peter shared the story of the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. He told the family of Cornelius that, “‘…everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’” (Acts 10:43) The Holy Spirit came on all listening to Peter’s message. They spoke in tongues, praising God. “Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’” (Acts 10:46-47) They were subsequently baptized as the first Gentiles coming to faith in the book of Acts.
We’re reminded of Jesus’ words, “‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-39) When the Spirit is leading us, we who have the Spirit in us will share God’s message with those who will receive the Spirit. Living water will then flow within them, as it does in us.
From Joppa Jonah, the prophet fled from God. From Joppa Peter, the Apostle followed God. Symbolically speaking, we’re all at Joppa. Asking God each day to lead us will keep us in a dynamic and faithful relationship with Him. We’ll help people access the living water that Jesus offers. People may be dramatically different from us, as the Gentiles were from the Jews, but “God does not show favoritism.” His living water is for all!
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.