Sunday 31 May, 2020

Acts 21:27-36

27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.) 30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”

Once entering Jerusalem Paul tries not to draw attention to himself, he tries to keep things low key and fit in with current Jewish custom. To no avail though as he is recognised by some Jews and called out for “preaching against our people and telling them to disobey Jewish laws.”   Paul was beaten, a riot broke out and if it weren’t for the Roman commander arresting Paul he probably would have been killed.  There was so much commotion that the arresting officer couldn’t even determine what Paul had done.  All he could hear were the shouts “Kill him, Kill him!” Agabus’ prophecy of the manner in which Paul would be bound and handed over to the Gentiles earlier in this same chapter was fulfilled.

What happened to Paul did not surprise him, other believers tried to talk him out of going to Jerusalem but he persisted because God called him there. Paul’s obedience is striking.  He was also called out for challenging the status quo by preaching faith in Christ instead of obeying Jewish law as the way to be made right with God.  What Paul proclaimed – the Gospel, was counter cultural at the time and not everyone received it well.  Believers today face the same thing in that the message of salvation through Jesus is still not readily received by some.  It rubs them up the wrong way and they take offence. Nonetheless the apostle Paul stood firm and continued to declare what he knew to be true regardless of the consequences.  I am confronted and challenged by this.  God give me bravery to share my faith even if it is not always popular and help me to be obedient like Paul.

Dear Lord, although I will probably never face the ongoing opposition Paul did, please give me courage to share my faith even if it is not always welcomed and help me to be obedient. Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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