The notes today are on Acts 17:1-9 and have been written by Mark Miller
“I predict a riot, I predict a riot…..”
History has many examples of people underplaying a situation or event.
Astronaut John Swigert reported to base during the Apollo 13 space flight ‘Houston we’ve have a problem’ a nice understatement that was not embellished with much detail and didn’t dwell on the outcome if things hadn’t worked out.
Winston Churchill gave a speech that said ‘Business carried on as usual during alterations on the map of Europe’. Again a fact that didn’t really convey the reality of the war Britain was in.
We now know both of those situations a lot better and can appreciate the full implications of what wasn’t said.
The bible also appears to understate some events and situations. Details that we think would make a difference to our appreciation of things are often glossed over in scripture. Brilliant examples are ‘he made the stars also’ and ‘there they crucified him’. Huge events that if we were tasked to write about, would warrant a few more words!
Verse 1 of today’s reading is another one of these understated verses. The apostles in this one verse had covered over 100 miles! 100 miles on foot and maybe horseback.
If I asked you to walk from Talbot Green to St David’s in Pembrokeshire, (104 miles according to Google) you might have something to say but these Apostles didn’t question the Spirit’s leading when making this long arduous and dangerous journey.
When they had finally arrived they got straight into teaching. The Jews were feeling threatened so stirred up a crowd from the market place by getting in touch with known trouble makers and causing a riot. Its amazing the lengths these Jews would go to just to silence Paul and Silas. They would rather cause possible damage to people and property rather than sit to discuss and reason with them.
The rioting Jews were not fussy as to who they arrested. When they couldn’t find Paul and Silas they grabbed a man called Jason who had shown hospitality to Paul and Silas. They dragged him to the authorities. Sometimes opposition to the gospel is calculated and planned but it seems in this case it started out planned but then went a bit ad hoc and descended into ‘Grab-the-closest-Christian’!
The Jews unwittingly paid Paul and Silas a big compliment saying in v6 ‘these men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here’. This is exactly what Jesus meant when he said his kingdom WILL be preached throughout the world. Paul, Silas and Jason would have been nicely reminded that they were helping fulfil the Lord’s prophecy.
It’s interesting to note that the preaching of Jesus’ death and resurrection (v3) threw the crowd and authorities into turmoil (v8). This is the effect of preaching Jesus, he provokes a reaction.
A few months ago two Christian speakers preaching about Jesus, in separate towns were arrested for preaching on the street. As in Acts, both the authorities and the public were involved with these evangelists. The Police asked spectators to film footage for any offensive remarks and also took statements from the public. Imagine the police time and effort that went into these arrests, the collecting of accounts from the public, holding the preachers in cells and also the questioning of them.
Both preachers have only recently been cleared due to false accusations and ‘insufficient evidence’
The name and words of Jesus still throws people ‘into turmoil’. His words caused a reaction in Paul’s day and they will still cause a reaction in your day.
How will you use the words and name of Jesus today? Let’s pray for an opportunity that will lead to a conversation about Jesus. A conversation that will hopefully put someone’s soul in turmoil in relation to where they stand before him.