Thursday 25 August, 2016

Acts 22:30 - 23:11

30 The commanding officer wanted to find out exactly what the Jews had against Paul. So the next day he let Paul out of prison. He ordered a meeting of the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin. Then he brought Paul and had him stand in front of them. 23 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin. “My brothers,” he said, “I have always done my duty to God. To this day I feel that I have done nothing wrong.” 2 Ananias the high priest heard this. So he ordered the men standing near Paul to hit him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “You pretender! God will hit you! You sit there and judge me by the law. But you yourself broke the law when you commanded them to hit me!” 4 Those who were standing near Paul spoke to him. They said, “How dare you talk like that to God’s high priest!” 5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I didn’t realize he was the high priest. It is written, ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’ ” (Exodus 22:28) 6 Paul knew that some of them were Sadducees and the others were Pharisees. So he called out to the members of the Sanhedrin. “My brothers,” he said, “I am a Pharisee. I come from a family of Pharisees. I believe that people will rise from the dead. That’s why I am on trial.” 7 When he said this, the Pharisees and the Sadducees started to argue. They began to take sides. 8 The Sadducees say that people will not rise from the dead. They don’t believe there are angels or spirits either. But the Pharisees believe all these things. 9 People were causing trouble and making a lot of noise. Some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up. They argued strongly. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The people arguing were getting out of control. The commanding officer was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. So he ordered the soldiers to go down and take him away from them by force. The officer had told them to bring Paul into the fort. 11 The next night the Lord stood near Paul. He said, “Be brave! You have told people about me in Jerusalem. You must do the same in Rome.”

Life following Jesus is filled with adventure and challenge and Paul was no stranger to these things happening. When he finds himself called before a Roman commander with the Jewish High Council and the leading priests Paul answers all he is asked – calling those who accuse him “brothers”. Even here – under attack – he carries the peace of God and has a heart for reconciliation. However – when Paul reminds the Pharisees that he is under attack because his hope is in the resurrection of the dead – the response is an uproar. It gets so bad the Roman Commander removes Paul from the situation. Tense! Paul seems to take it all in his stride – this is part of the adventure of following Jesus. God is still in control. The passage ends with God confirming this. You are in the right place – “be encouraged – just as you have been a witness here in Jerusalem, you must preach the good news in Rome.”

Oh God – help me let go of the comfort of the familiar and be ready for all that the adventure of following You brings. Like Paul – in the midst of hostility – may I be a witness to You. Encourage me – in whatever situation I find myself – that I am there for you!

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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