What will it mean for us? The promise is for those ‘afar off’. Peter prophesied it, probably had some measure of expectation, but the fulfilment was way beyond what he anticipated. The ‘afar off’ were of course the Gentiles. I have covered some of this material elsewhere so will not write extensively this time round.
Peter’s life was about to change the day he went on the roof top to pray before dinner. Three times (3 times!!) he had a vision and 3 times he responded holding his ground, the ground that he had stood on because he had followed the ways of God. He moves from the vision to the front door to be confronted by three people (3 persons!) on his doorstep. They came speaking of supernatural encounters that an ‘afar off’ person had had: an angelic visitation with an address and the name of who he should contact. Role reversal! The apostle had an encounter that left him needing to be re-educated, Cornelius has the ‘high’ level encounter.
Peter has to make the journey, literally, culturally, emotionally and spiritually. He comes through because he is willing to have a major conversion. Cornelius too needs a conversion, but in the context it seems that was fairly small.
I consider that in every wave of the Spirit there are three phases, or at least there could be three phases. The promise is for ‘you’ is where it begins; the promise is generational… and dependent on how we respond to the generational promise, it can also be for those who are afar off. The promise is not as simple as ‘and then the afar off will come to you’, to embrace that third aspect we have to be willing to undergo conversions and to go on a journey. To stand our ground and say ‘never have I’ might be OK as a starting point, but we have to be open to being taught. That re-learning process will only come as we walk the path.
Some strange reports lie ahead. Ones that do fit in the categories we have pre-determined. Such is the promise of Pentecost.