42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
Some people heard the good news and wanted to hear more next week. Some couldn’t wait until next week. By next week everybody – Jews and Gentiles – wanted to hear. These all seem like reasonable responses. It’s excellent news. Who wouldn’t want to hear?
But another response is really interesting. Here are some Jews who, presumably, came because they wanted to hear the good news again. But when they see the crowd, they become jealous. Maybe they were just jealous that everyone wanted to hear Paul and Barnabas (and not them), but I suspect it goes deeper. After centuries of keeping themselves separate from the Gentiles around them, separating themselves as the people that God chose from amongst all the other nations for a special relationship, suddenly it’s for everyone. I suspect they didn’t want the good news to be for all those outsiders.
Their response is not only to reject the good news they came to hear but to try to take it away from everyone else too. Paul and Barnabas’ reaction in verse 46 (tomorrow) is significant.
I’m challenged not to forget what a revolutionary thing it is that Jesus came to redeem the whole world, to save everyone, even including me. I’m challenged never to place a barrier to anyone hearing that good news. I’m challenged that my heart needs to be as open as Jesus’ heart.
I love that (usually) we remind ourselves each week at church to make room for others. Yes, outsiders will change our church, change my life. It will become so much better as they become insiders.
Written by David Cornell