Reflections: July 28, 2020
Tuesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity
By Joel Shaltanis
When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. (Acts 23:12)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Ever feel like people are out to get you? Maybe you have been bullied or had a friend betray you. Maybe someone told lies about you or posted awful things about you on social media. As difficult as that was, it doesn't compare to what Paul went through.
Paul was a hated man. As we read in Acts 23, 40 men made an oath not to eat or drink until they killed him. By their actions, you might think those men were outlaws, part of some terrorist cell or a street gang. But they were nothing of the sort. They were religious zealots, ultra-conservatives, wild-eyed fundamentalists convinced they were doing God's will.
One of the greatest evils in the world is religion gone bad, for when someone does evil in the name of religion, they actually believe they are doing good and will justify anything. The Jews who killed Jesus and the Jews plotting to kill Paul had wandered so far from God that in their minds they could justify murder, counter to the Fifth Commandment, in order to quiet a dissenting voice. These plotters were not merely a rogue faction, but they were working with the consent of the authorities (Acts 23:14).
Mercifully, God rescued Paul at this time. Paul's nephew caught wind of the plot and alerted the Roman authorities, who swept in with a small army to rescue this one imprisoned preacher. Some 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen whisked Paul away in the middle of the night (Acts 23:23).
What was Paul's great crime? He was trying to make Jesus known to his fellow Jews. As a Jew who had once persecuted Christians, he wanted Jews to know that the Messiah had come and fulfilled the Law perfectly and then offered Himself up as an atoning sacrifice not only for Jews, but for every sinner on the planet, including you!
Christians still proclaim that Gospel message to this day and rejoice in it. We join with Paul and countless others in living in the hope and assurance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
In chains for Christ! His pris'ners love to sing, For slaves and free rejoice to praise our King; What though the Church on earth still suffers wrong? The cross of Christ remains our pilgrim song. ("The Saints in Christ Are One in Every Place" LSB 838, st.2)
-Rev. Joel Shaltanis is pastor of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Plano, TX.
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