Year 2 Day 85
Read - Acts 21v37-22v22
Message - Scott Woodburn
Paul was being carried into the barracks to keep him from the baying mob and yet he still asked permission from the Roman tribune to address the crowd who wanted his blood (v39). With the tribune’s agreement, Paul addressed the crowd in the Hebrew language (v40). Hearing Paul speak in their native tongue calmed the crowd (v2) and soon they would give Paul their full attention.
The Apostle would use the opportunity to tell his full story. He was a Jew like them (v3) who had been educated by the famous Gamaliel (v3). Paul was zealous for God even leading him to persecute the Christian faith (v4-5). But something happened to him as he travelled to Damascus to ravage the church. Paul met with Jesus.
Christ asked Paul directly “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (v8) and from that moment on Paul’s life would never be the same again. He would be led into Damascus (v11) where a man named Ananias would pray for him to receive his sight, for Paul had been blinded by his interaction with Jesus (v13).
Later the Lord would speak to Paul via a trance in Jerusalem (v17) warning him that the Jews would not accept Paul’s testimony about Jesus. Paul couldn’t understand their resistance. Paul’s experience with Christ was genuine, how could they think anything else? They knew Paul imprisoned and beat Christians (v19) and he approved of the murder of Stephen (v20). Nevertheless, the Lord knows best and His plan for Paul was a mission to the Gentiles (v21).
Unfortunately the crowd had heard enough and shouted “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” (v22). The tragedy of this response cannot be overstated. By the grace of God, Paul was standing before his own countrymen sharing the Gospel of Christ and yet their preference was for Paul to die.
Perhaps if they’d listened a little bit longer they would have come to realise what Paul now understood. In his letter to the Philippians he would put it this way “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3v4-8)
Paul knew that all our accolades, all our heritage, all our ethnicity, all our learning…everything…every inch of our lives…nothing compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul was no longer spiritually blind but tragically the attitude in Jerusalem was still “Away with this man!”
Brothers and sisters, take every opportunity to speak about Jesus. I pray that we will never face a rabid mob but even if such a day comes may the Lord give us courage to speak the Gospel. We know that nothing and no one compares to Christ and by the hearing of the Word of Christ, faith comes. Therefore in our hearts we “honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3v15)
Q89 How is the Word made effectual to salvation? The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.