Read: Acts 22:11-21
As Paul concludes his address to his Jewish brothers, he is careful to craft his speech in a way favorable to his Jewish brothers. Notice at the beginning of the address he is sure to mention his Jewish birth, his upbringing and training in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. Paul recounts his zeal for God and persecution of the church. Even when he mentions Ananias he calls him a “devout observer of the law” and goes on to say that he was “highly respected by all Jews living there.” When Ananias addresses Paul, the message that Paul shares that Ananias was given connects Paul’s new mission with the plan of God. So far so good.
So, why the coming rage from the crowd? We mentioned a little bit yesterday about the barriers that were hard for some to get over concerning who is in and who is out. It appears that these Jews were looking at things through the us vs. them lens, whereas Paul and those that worked with him, didn’t see this division. Sure, Paul had enemies and would write quite a lot about them in his epistles, but when it came to the message of the gospel and who was in and out, Paul didn’t make racial or ethnic distinctions. If a Jew accepted Christ, that was great. And, if a Gentile accepted Christ, that was great too. The only thing that Paul was concerned with was sharing the message of Christ. This was his mission and Paul wanted to follow God’s plan wherever they sent him, even if it meant having to abandon the Jews and work primarily among the Gentiles. So, what would you if you were in similar shoes? Let’s say that here at church you felt called to reach out to certain group of people outside of the church. These people were really different from the good, well dressed people that grace our hallways week after week. Let’s say your ministry was so effective that this group of people you had been working with began to flock our congregation in droves. Let’s pretend that the regulars were so upset all these different kinds of folks were present. And after church a special meeting was called and you were on trail so to speak for flooding the church with different people. How would you respond? Would you handle things with grace, would you react with anger? What would you do?