17 “After I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him telling me, ‘Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ (Acts 22:17)
21 “He said to me, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” 22 They listened to him up to this point. Then they raised their voices, shouting, “Wipe this man off the face of the earth! He should not be allowed to live!” 23 As they were yelling and flinging aside their garments and throwing dust into the air, Acts 22:21-23
Can you picture this ridiculous scene? This group of Jews, upon hearing Paul say that God sent him to share about Jesus with the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) absolutely have a hissy fit and a tantrum. Yelling, shouting, threatening, throwing their clothes around and throwing dust into the air! Sounds like a bunch of out of control and massively immature three year olds. (Normal three year olds do not behave this way!) It kind of shows you the folly of racism, and the hatred and anger that in can produce in a person. By the way, lest you think I’m coming down on the Jewish people here, please let me remind us that practically everybody in the Bible, with a few exceptions, are Jewish…including Jesus, and Paul, and Peter, and David and Moses, etc. Some of those Jewish people are the heroes of the Bible, some are the villains, and some are in between. So yes, there is quite a bit of racism in the Bible, including here. One group of Jewish people does NOT want any sort of good news brought to the rest of the world. Praise God for that other group of Jewish people that obeyed Jesus and carried the gospel to the Gentiles like you and me!
Let’s go read our chapter, and afterwards, we will discuss one more topic in today’s passage related to Paul’s testimony.
Final topic: Why did God save Paul and appoint him to ministry? Think about that question for a minute. Paul was an enemy of Jesus – just as zealous in his persecution of the church of Jesus as these racist Jews were zealous in their condemnation of good news for the Gentiles. In fact, as we are told here, it was Paul that was at Stephen’s murder (the first Christian martyr) legitimizing and giving approval to his death. And yet, Jesus SEEKS him out (not the other way around!) What a wonderful testimony of the grace of Jesus, right?! In closing, here is Spurgeon with some powerful words on Paul’s Testimony:
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
There is something very characteristic about Christ’s answer to Saul’s question. He did not say, “It is hard for me;” although he was himself persecuted in his members, and felt intense sympathy with them, he did not dwell upon that; but he said to Saul, “It is hard for thee.” There was much pity in the rebuke. Saul was like a bullock that has been pricked by the sharp ox-goad, and that kicks against it, and so is hurt all the more. Our Lord knew what sorrow it would cause Saul in the years to come, for he would never cease to lament that he had persecuted the disciples of Christ.C. H. Spurgeon, “Scales Taken from the Eyes,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 56 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1910), 334.
What surprise filled the soul of Saul when he perceived that the Nazarene whom he had hated was really divine. Little had he dreamed of persecuting the Son of God, he thought he was crushing out a troublesome imposture. O Lord, open the eyes of any other sincere bigot who may be persecuting thy cause without knowing it to be thine!
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 644.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
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