“…But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust…” - Acts 24:14-15
We watched yesterday as Paul insisted on returning to Jerusalem, even against the warnings of his friends and fellow laborers. His reception there was as Agabus had predicted: Paul was arrested and bound for trial on charges of “teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place,” and even that he “brought Greeks into the Temple and has defiled this holy place.” They permitted him to speak in his own defense until he declared that the LORD Himself had sent him to preach to the Gentiles.
Today’s reading picks up the following day, when the Roman Tribune calls Paul and the chief priests to sort out the accusations against him. I don’t want to give too much away. My encouragement for you is to read this today as pure story, a narrative of history and politics and intrigue and religion and power. You’ll see nefarious plots and daring rescues. You’ll see Paul brilliantly split the Sanhedrin against itself. You’ll meet Roan governors and yet another Herod, and you’ll see how friend and foe try to exploit their mangled priorities. Listen as Luke relates the motivations behind each action – and how the Lord looked out for Paul.
And be patient, for Jerusalem is not Paul’s final destination: while still in Macedonia, he resolved in the Spirit that he must see Rome. After his arrest in Jerusalem though, likely awaiting mob execution rather than an official trial, this goal would be immaterial except that the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
In the background is the intensifying breach between the Jews and adherents to “The Way,” or “Nazarenes” as their called today. Paul consistently defendshimself as a committed Jew who believes in the resurrection of the dead according to The Way not as a replacement for the God of Our Fathers, but as the fulfillment of God’s promises. Yet the Jews want to kill him all the more. As Acts approaches the finish line, this tension seems far from a resolution.
Our verse for this week is Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Acts 23 through 25. Now let’s read it!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.