[Nov 10]--Testimony Before The Jews, Part Two

Acts 22:12-22

So let’s continue looking at Paul’s speech before the Jews in Jerusalem. After recounting his encounter with the Messiah, he shifts for a moment to Ananias, the man sent to heal him. Paul is careful to point out that Ananias was also a practicing Jew: He tried to follow the Law and was well-respected as such by the Jewish people around him.

We get some details we didn’t get in chapter nine, but most of it we’re familiar with. But also we hear about his first opposition from his own people. He was in a trance when the Lord appeared to him and warned him to flee the city. Why? Because the Lord knew that the Jewish people in general wouldn’t receive his testimony. Paul’s response to the Savior, which he described before, was that he used to be a persecutor of the Church. Surely these Jews who'd try to hunt him down would understand that what happened on the Road was real. It would take the Lord God himself appearing to Saul of Tarsus to bring him to faith in Yeshua. Nothing else would've done it.

But then he mentions something to them, and that’s the end of the speech. He undoubtedly had lots more to say, but he never got the chance. He made the tactical error of relating how the Lord told him that he (the Lord) would send him (Paul) to the Gentiles.

That’s what set off another riot.

They listened once they realized he was (literally) speaking their language. They were impressed with his study of and adherence to the Law. His spiritual pedigree made an impact on them. They were intrigued how Ananias (another faithful Jew) came to him and healed him. The fact that his own countrymen wanted to kill him maybe shocked them, but this didn’t close them off to the possibility that Paul was speaking the truth.

Until he said that God sent him to the Gentiles.

Should we be surprised? Do you remember when Jesus came back to his hometown? They were also impressed with his message. They were a little skeptical, but they at least had something of an open mind. But when the Savior starting to point out to them that God loves Gentiles and has even dealt with them in the past, they went ballistic, started a lynch mob and tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. It was only miraculous power that saved him from death at the hands of the people he had grown up with.

Why do I bring this motif up once again? Because the Bible does. Repeatedly. Again and again in his word the Lord made it abundantly clear that his ultimate plan has always been to redeem people from all over the world. Peter said it best in his first encounter with Gentiles: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” But the Jews thought that their calling made them special and that all other people were bound for Hell and deserved to go there.

Oh but we’re past that, right? We don’t hate anyone of any particular race. We’re cured of the ethnocentrism that the early Church struggled with. Sure.

So are there any groups of people whom you have written off? Are there any people whom you don’t believe can be saved—and deep deep down inside you’re fine with that? How’s about Muslims? How’s about Chinese Buddhists? Or—and this is really ironic—how about the Jewish people?

If this doesn’t apply to you, if you can honestly say that you’re free of this, then fine. I’m not going to dispute you. And I hope it’s true. But if the Spirit is pricking your heart, you might want to give a listen. Because although the Jews of that time are long dead, I suspect that their spirit is alive and well.

Father God, please search out my heart. Any place where this rot exists, please root it out. And replace it with a Paul-like zeal to see every nation, every tongue, every people group represented before your Throne in worship.

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