A Snake and Kindness
Heavenly Father, You have created me to “soar on wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31). Lord, I want to soar today.
Read Acts 28:1-16
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“To encourage, to lift, to offer the tonic of praise, to stand at the side of another person in need of help is a Christ-like service” (John N. Gladstone). How true that is!
We thought yesterday about the perils of speculating that what has happened to us is (or is not) part of God’s particular providence to us. The reaction of the Maltese to Paul and his fellow sailors shows a confused mixture of over-reactions.
First of all, they were kind (2). A large number of people from the shipwreck appear on their shores, and their first reaction is to welcome them, to warm them, and then to offer hospitality (7). Note the “us” which indicates once more that Luke was there, too. Then, there is the curious incident of the snake. The islanders obviously had some idea of divine justice (4), and this agrees with the thinking of Paul in the first two chapters of Romans, where he argues that the attributes of God are plain to all (Rom. 1:19; 2:11,12). Luke seems to think it is ironic, if not pitiful, that they lurch from thinking of Paul as a murderer to his being a god. As Howard Marshall points out, there was an intermediate class of divine beings in the ancient world view. Luke makes it clear that he wasn’t one of those, either; however, the next section shows Paul as a healer in the manner of Jesus, healing the father of his host and then others on the island. Unusually, we hear nothing of Paul preaching to the Maltese (which doesn’t mean he didn’t, of course). Once again, we see Paul matching his ministry to the capacity of those to whom he ministered.
And so we come to the climax of the book, Paul’s arrival in Rome, where it seems the greetings and hospitality of established Christian believers alleviates some of the inconvenience of living under guard.
Many people have distorted or half-grasped notions of what being a Christian involves. How can you and other Christians help clear those confusions through words and actions?
Lord Jesus, I know many people really don’t understand what it means and how great it is to follow You. May my life show that more clearly.
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