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We get some classic Paul in today's Acts readings! You'll recall from yesterday's readings, the crowd in Jerusalem got riled up against Paul and the crowd was beating on Paul. Then, some Roman soldiers come to try to keep the peace and end up arresting Paul and putting him in chains. But what does Paul do? Go quietly into that good night? No way! He speaks to the Roman commander in Greek - which surprises the commander. (It is thought that Paul spoke 4 languages - Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew & Latin) And then he speaks to the crowd in Aramaic. The crowd that was just beating on him! He turns around and speaks with Love and Truth. So amazing... What do you think you or I would do in this type of situation today? Could we continue to speak Love and Truth to people that were just beating on us? I am not so sure that I could... I pray that I could! I pray that I would... Below is an oil on canvas painting by the Spanish painter El Greco from the year 1614 of "St. Paul":
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "Paul's Defense to the Jews in Jerusalem" is at this link.
Today at the end of Acts 22 Paul threw out this incendiary statement that shocked the crowd: ""But the Lord said to me, `Leave Jerusalem, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'" This reminds me that the Gospel today still shocks people. The Gospel is still moving forward in our world to people that we sometimes may not think "deserve" it, like this crowd didn't think the Gentiles deserved relationship with "their" God of Israel. God is bigger than we think He is. God is pursuing the whole world. Let us pray he continues to shock crowds like he did in Acts 22... It's so interesting - looking at this image below of Paul's presence and words creating chaos in a crowd and the Roman guards being there in the midst. This is so reminiscent of Jesus' final day in Jerusalem before he walked up the hill to Golgotha. Think Paul was emulating his Savior? How about you? Are you emulating your Savior? Or are you playing it safe?
We can see Paul's wisdom at work in today's Acts readings! First he shares at the appropriate time that he is a Roman citizen - by birth - which means he cannot be punished until proven guilty.
Then, before the High Council he wisely throws out in Acts 23 verse 6 - ""Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were all my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!" This instantly divides the Pharisees and Sadducees at the council - and allows things to get heated enough that the soldiers take Paul out of the council for his safety. Bible.org's fantastic look at "Paul's Trial before the Sanhedrin" is at this link.
Our readings in Acts today open up with a very encouraging word to Paul from Jesus in verse 11 - "That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, "Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have told the people about me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome."" That is awesome that this occurred in the midst of all of Paul's trials and imprisonment. Jesus was there with him. How about in our lives today - think Jesus is always with us? Is there any circumstance you can find yourself in that Jesus won't be there? Is there anywhere on this earth you can go where Jesus won't be there?
An interesting note on verses 12 & 13 in today's readings - "The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty of them." It is believed by some scholars that these 40 men may have been part of the Zealots - the group that later led the revolt against Rome in A.D. 66-70.
Paul is taken to Governor Felix at the end of today's readings in Acts. Felix is in the same position that Pontius Pilate was. I find it kind of interesting that both Jesus and Paul were brought before the same-positioned Roman ruler. It reminds me of Jesus' words in John 15 verse 20 to his disciples - "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." If Jesus was brought before a Roman governor, it's no surprise that Paul was too. I think you and I should remember Jesus' words in the Gospel of John as well. I know oftentimes we don't seem persecuted at all - maybe most of the time really. But, I think we need to remember, it can happen. If we are truly living our faith and truly following Jesus, persecution will come in some form or another. No servant is greater than his master... Have you ever been persecuted for your faith? Are you willing to be persecuted for your faith?
Worship Video: Today's readings in Acts reminds me of the Needtobreathe song "Washed by the Water:"
Have you been washed by the water? Click here and be Clean!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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