…these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin—unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’” (Acts 24:20(b)-21 NIV)
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:15-18 NIV)
Some who study the prophetic warnings given to Paul prior to his final journey to Jerusalem believe Paul overrode God’s voice and plunged into unnecessary danger. Others believe Paul was more focused on reaching both Jews and Gentiles with the Gospel than risk management.
Whatever side of that argument you favor, Acts 24-28 pictures the accused and arrested Paul taking advantage of illuminated cracks shining through seemingly closed doors all the way from Jerusalem to Rome. The result was that he escaped certain death and continued preaching the resurrection of Jesus to the upper tiers of Jewish and Gentile power.
I know God’s ways are not our ways but my humanity is often uncomfortable with the idea that unjust accusations and imprisonment could be the best way to open doors for the Gospel. My first reaction to contemporary situations where the Gospel seems silenced by powerful opposition too often takes the form of hand-wringing or doom saying.
Paul’s mindset in Acts 24-28 encourages me to take another approach. His thoughts and words show conviction that the eternal presence of Jesus illuminates potentially disastrous situations. This mindset enabled him to be bold in every circumstance recorded in his last missionary journey.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-4).
John 1:1-4 reveals the immense power Jesus had shown to Paul, not only at his conversion, but in so many ways after. Meditate on these verses and ask to see the light of Jesus’ resurrection shining through a door you thought was closed or a circumstance you’ve thought was hopeless.
By Kathleen Petersen