The following day [Peter] arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
- Acts 10:24-26
Cornelius readied his home and community for Peter’s arrival. You can see him acting as a person of peace here. Not only does he invite Peter into his home, he also gathers a crowd to listen to Peter’s message. And then, when Peter finally arrives, Cornelius falls at his feet.
Even as Peter has to make sure that both of them remember that he is only a man himself (this is as important for Peter to remember as it is for Cornelius), the posture that Cornelius has here is to be admired.
Why did Cornelius fall at Peter’s feet? The passage tells us that Cornelius’ action had a tinge of reverence to it. Here was a man coming with a word from God. We can’t help but remember this line from Isaiah:
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Cornelius showed humility, submission and openness. His posture literally left him defenseless. He honored his guest in a way that perhaps no Roman had ever honored a Jew.
In falling at Peter’s feet, Cornelius set the tone for their interaction. Cornelius would not play the part of the haughty centurion commanding entertainment or entertaining supplicants. He led the way in listening.
In our efforts to break through barriers, we often stop short of this step of radical humility. We invite people to share, but reserve our submission and our deep listening until we know we like what they have to say. We won’t risk our dignity.
We will never experience true breakthrough if we won't take the posture of one who is willing to fall at the feet of those whom God sends to share with us.
Take some time today to ask God to give you the courage to follow Cornelius’ example and the wisdom to know when those opportunities are before you.