Caesarea by the sea is the kind of place you’d want to go for a vacation. This seaside town has beautiful views of the emerald green and blue waters of the mediterranean. It has one of those shell-filled beaches that feels wonderful as you walk and is filled with ready-made souvenirs. Though it’s view is breathtaking, its beauty is far surpassed by its significance to humanity.
In the first century this was a bustling center of Herod’s power. He was able to sink huge pilings in the ocean to create a port adding incredible commerce to the natural beauty. He build a palace here to make sure he always had a place to stay when he came to relax by the shore. But his construction went far beyond a beach house he built an incredible hippodrome (chariot racing facility) a beautiful amphitheater, two temples, and several other impressive structures that put caesarea by the Sea on par with many of the major Roman cities.
It was here that Paul would eventually be brought to stand trial only to be sent on to Rome as he appealed for a higher ruling as a Roman citizen.
Though these are all incredible facets of this beautiful locale, it is a moment from the book of Acts that gives it cosmic significance. It is here that Peter came in the first century to visit a gentile named Cornelius (Acts 10). As he spoke to that family, the Holy Spirit messed everything up.
Up until this point, the movement of Jesus followers was gaining popularity and respect as a Jewish sect. They were having some overwhelming success proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the messiah of the Jews, but what was about to happen would change that, and all of humanity, forever.
Into the home of Cornelius the Holy Spirit came and filled the gentile family. Like a second Pentecost, this moment changed everything. The Holy Spirit broke down the walls That separated Jew and Gentile and revealed to Peter that God had bigger plans for humanity and Christianity. This was not a Jewish movement, this was a human movement that would push beyond the Jewish people grafting all nations into the vine of blessing of the children of Abraham.
”Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days”. (Acts 10:47-48)
This was not a Jewish home. They did not have a Mikveh like this one from Magdala. Instead, they would have gone down to the Mediterranean, to these waters on the shell laiden soil and baptize the first Gentile believer. What a moment! For Christianity and for humanity at Caesarea by the Sea.