SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- We get extensive details about Paul's journey as he continues towards Jerusalem.
- While in Caesarea, he is warned by a man named Agabus that physical persecution awaits him if he continues on to Jerusalem. Everyone begs him not to go, but he assures them he is willing to die for Jesus.
- We see in verses 17-26 that Christianity is so young it's experiencing growing pains. New issues are arising as both Jews, who followed the laws and customs of Moses, and Gentiles, who did not, are coming to faith in Jesus. The early Christian leaders were having to navigate difficult issues of the day, such as "are all Christians required to circumcise their children or just Jewish Christians?" and "Should Gentiles be required to follow Jewish customs?".
- Paul, attempting to show solidarity with the Jews, decides to go through the ritual Purification ceremony at the temple. However, things go very wrong. On the seventh day, some Jews from Asia start a riot and accuse Paul of many false charges, including taking a Greek into the temple, which was strictly forbidden. Things turn violent and they begin to beat him to death. Fortunately, the Roman commander stopped the riot and had Paul arrested and chained.
- In America, we don't experience physical persecution for sharing our faith with others. But there are many Christians around the world who are persecuted and killed for their faith. We should pray for them.
- No one likes to be persecuted, but it does tend to fortify a person's faith. Because American Christians don't experience much opposition, it's easier to have a complacent faith. We may believe, but because our lives are not put to the test, we can not be passionate about Jesus and sharing him with others. That's not acceptable. Jesus makes it clear that to follow him means to love God and love people with all our heart, soul, and mind. We need to be all in.
- If you were persecuted for your faith, would you stay true to God? Are you willing to overcome any obstacles or opposition to share your faith with others so they can know Jesus? Having a relationship with God, and helping others to have a relationship with God, is what life is all about. Don't settle for anything less. If you need to increase your level of passion and commitment, start now by praying for that.