Mighty God, I praise You for the hope that sustains, the grace that binds, and for the Savior who reigns.
Read Acts 23:12-35
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.
Remember that God’s Son came under attack and died at the hands of those who rejected him and his message. The servant is not above his master.
It seems there have always been places somewhere in the world where being a Christian is not just a source of ridicule but a threat to one’s life. As I write, the most prominent places are in parts of the Middle East, but by the time you read this that may have changed. Usually it happens out of misplaced religious zeal. It ought not to be surprising; Jesus himself warned his disciples that this would happen (Luke 21:12). Paul used to lead the mayhem himself until Jesus intervened.
Many of us, however, are used to years of cultural dominance or at least privilege, and to the most non-violent opposition. Violent opposition would, therefore, be a shock as well as a challenge. How would we react? What is encouraging about today’s reading is that Paul’s response is not just a matter of individual reaction, of personal courage and conviction—though it is all those things. Paul has the support of his family (16) and he has Roman citizenship. He also has a tribune and a Governor who take the rule of the law seriously. Behind them all is a God who can make use of anyone, whether they call on his name or not.
So the chapter turns into an adventure story, with Paul in protective custody and some very hungry and thirsty assassins left behind (21). Even in the direst circumstances, Luke shows a very dry sense of humor. These men had made a dramatic gesture, which at some point they would have to abandon quietly or starve to death. What happened to them? Perhaps fanaticism is sometimes best countered by humor!
Pray for protection for Christians who are being persecuted. Thank God for people of integrity in high places, of whatever persuasion.
Father, I pray for those being persecuted or living in violent cities, war-torn families and other difficult places. Sustain and strengthen them.
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