Acts 21:27-40: Arrested
February 13, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Exodus 34, Psalm 36, Matthew 15:21-39, Acts 21:27-40 Acts 21:27-40: So Paul is now in Jerusalem, and his and the Jewish Christian leaders’ attempts to pacify his accusers fail – his presence in the temple area causes a riot. He is arrested and about to be taken off by the Romans when Paul asks to address the crowd. When he speaks in their indigenous language, they become quiet, and Paul gains an opportunity to speak to them – to preach the gospel, as we shall see tomorrow. What do we learn at this stage of the story? Why does Luke tell us all this in such detail when other parts of Paul’s life are passed over relatively quickly? First, Luke is showing us this so that we can enter into the experience. What must it have been like to have been suddenly arrested? To have all the countrymen that you loved so much turn in violence against you? Oftentimes we can mouth pious platitudes about God being in charge even in the difficult times. But difficult times like this? Really? And yet God is in charge even of those times. Friend, if you are going through a time of great uproar – there is a riot around you, or within you, and you feel disturbed practically or emotionally – then remember this story. Remember the riot that engulfed Paul. And remember how God turned that in the end to place Paul at the heart of the Roman Empire to preach the gospel there too. Second, Luke is showing us this to show the extraordinary presence of mind of the apostle. Which of us in this situation would be able to have the calmness and clarity of thought to identify the right person to speak to, say the right thing, and ask it in such a way that you gained the end which you were hoping to accomplish. Anyone who thinks that Christian leadership is easy or that the authors of the New Testament were simpletons should look at the tough situations that the apostle Paul was placed in and how he responded to them. And yet, at another level, he was just a man like us — but filled with the Spirit and serving Jesus. We cannot all, of course, be an apostle Paul. But we can all learn the secret of contentment, in good times as well as lacking times, and be able to trust that God is sovereign over each. Why not pray that God would give you the kind of spiritual maturity that Paul here evidenced so that if you are put in this kind of hard situation in your own life, you would be able to leave as good a testimony as the apostle Paul did? Third, Luke is showing us this to let us see how Paul never wasted an opportunity. He was a citizen of the Roman Empire. He could have used that to his advantage at this moment (as later he will, of course, when he appeals to Caesar). But his first thought right now is not how to get away from danger. Paul was the kind of man who looked at a rioting crowd and did not think, “Scary; get me out of here!” but instead thought. “Wow, what an opportunity to preach!” Chuck Swindoll somewhere says that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you look at it. Consider how Paul looked at his situation! Here’s a chance for me to preach to a huge crowd! Let’s go! What situations are there in your life that you can look at in this way? What, if you change your attitude, could your life situation be – not a downer, but a massive opportunity for evangelism, discipleship, witness, or service?]]>
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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