Change of Strategy
Father, I often set my course based on practical reasons alone. Guide me to follow Your direction and not my own.
Read Acts 13:42–52
42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink of events in your own life or in that of your church. Look out for Paul’s response in today’s reading.
All seems to go well at first, with the crowd swollen the following Sabbath by almost “the whole city” (44)! But clearly not everyone was pleased and some (probably not all) of the Jews reacted against Paul and Barnabas (45). Can you imagine how those Jewish people felt? And how Paul and Barnabas felt?
What do you think of Paul’s rationale for turning to the Gentiles? Trace back through Luke’s account in Acts 9–11, and even in Jesus’ words at 1:8, to see how we have been prepared for this inevitable outcome. Theologically, Israel was always intended by God to be “a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (13:47).
But it was a momentous step, not only for Paul’s ministry but also for the next 2,000 years. Those 2,000 years have been filled with animosity and violence between Jews and Gentiles, the majority initiated by the Gentile people who mostly benefited from Paul’s decision to turn to them.
Think of a way that you can represent Christ to someone who does not know him. Don’t wait; do it today.
Lord, I pray for reconciliation. Give me the desire and the opportunity to share You with all.
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