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Archive for October, 2016

Verses 6-7: “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.””

In the old Marvel Comics series Sub-Mariner, issue #22 was a momentous meeting between Prince Namor (the Sub-Mariner) and Dr. Strange (2 heroes who would later go on to found the super-group known as The Defenders). Dr. Strange, exiled in another dimension to escape detection on Earth, telepathically guides Namor to Boston to the house of an old friend; his mission is to find a cursed idol that would allow a demonic race known as the Undying Ones, led by the Nameless One, to enter Earth’s dimension. Once Namor finds the artifact, Dr. Strange reveals himself and defeats a disguised demon. Dr. Strange answers indignant Namor’s questions about what this is all about. In relating the history of the Undying Ones, Strange describes to Namor various groups that worshipped or allied themselves with the demons, and how there were fanatical groups dedicated to stopping them. In one panel, they showed some villagers storm a house, accusing the occupant of practicing witchcraft and being in league with the cult. Despite the homeowner’s protestations to the contrary, the mob leader simply states that “it is enough that you stand accused”. (that may not be the direct quote, but I’m having trouble finding that story in my comics collection 🙂 ).

I remember that line though: “it is enough that you stand accused”. In today’s passage, the mob is livid because they can’t find Paul and Silas, so they do the next best thing: they harassed their host, a man named Jason, and bring him along with their accusation that Paul and Silas are preaching worship to another king beside Caesar (remember, that was the similar charge Jesus Himself faced from Pilate in Luke 23:2, per the footnote in my Holman NKJV Study Bible). This way the mob could “use” the current legal system to present a “legitimate” charge against the two.

What’s interesting is that later in the verses, Jason is released after paying a security to help ensure that Paul and Silas “leave town”. In my Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts (pages 285-286), I found some background information. First, although the Jews, as a whole, despised Roman rule, they weren’t above “using the system” to get their way when it was convenient. Also, the security bond procured from Jason here was not a bond found in our current legal system (where you pay money to guarantee your presence at a legal proceeding), but instead was “insurance” that Jason would “assist” in getting Paul and Silas to leave. Though Paul and Silas would leave, the church in Thessalonica would grow and not be snuffed out.

There are days that will come when “guilt by association” might be a charge levelled at you. It makes me recall, even today, an old rhetorical question: if you were to be accused of being a Christian…would there be enough evidence to prove it?

Something to think about.

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Verses 4-5: “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.”

“Round. Flat.”
“Round. Flat.”
“Round. Flat.”
“ROUND! Columbo, the world…she’s flat!”

Thus went the conversation between Christopher Columbus and King Ferdinand of Spain…in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Hare We Go“.
Columbus: “The world, she’sa round.”
Ferdinand: “She’s flat.”

Columbus (picking out an apple from a fruit bowl): “Look, King…she’sa round like’a the apple.”
Ferdinand: “She’s flat like the pancake.” (the king waves a pancake in Columbus’s face.)
Columbus, angrily, gesturing at the globe on a stand: “Pasta Fazool’e! She’sa round, she’sa firm, she’sa fully packed!” Taking off his hat, Columbus proclaims: “She’sa round like’a my head!”
Ferdinand takes the ubiquitous big wooden mallet, smashing it on Columbus’s head: “She’sa FLAT like your head!”

Some people refuse to believe the truth, no matter what they hear. Of course, Bugs comes to the rescue to prove it to Queen Isabella and help Columbus (I always loved the “pitch the baseball around the world and it comes back with stickers from various countries” gag!)

As usual for the time Paul lived in, he preached the Gospel, this time in Thessalonica. Some believed and were converted. Some Jews heard the Gospel and refused to believe, even drumming up a mob to have them arrested. It has been said that Christianity is a belief that can divide a world.

So which side are you on? The flat side or the round side?

Something to think about.

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Verses 37-38: “But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.”

There was once a manager of a community garden who lacked the funds and the labor to do a wholescale renovation of the garden. He had the money for materials, but not the help. Enter a group of missionary volunteers who offered their services free of charge. The man in charge of the group was a retired veteran landscaper, and knew his craft well. Although grateful for the help, the manager soon found himself meddling in the work, trying to do things more cheaply, or with his own ideas on how things should be done. Among the people involved in the renovation was a video documenter, who was recording the progress for a local documentary on public television, spotlighting the work. Now, during interviews, the manager sometimes didn’t speak as favorably about the landscaper as he should have; he’d offer “his” opinions on him, and lament about the amount of money they were spending. Finally, the documenter politely told the manager that he should “trust that my father is not going to waste your money. He knows what he is doing, believe me.” The manager was aghast: “HE’S YOUR FATHER???” “Yes”, replied the documenter quietly, “didn’t you notice our last names being the same?” The manager’s demeanor changed. After that, the manager was somewhat more respectful, if not more quiet, in his dealings with the landscaper.

One of Paul’s gifts was his intellect and knowledge. He called out the magistrates on their rash treatment of them; it’s very interesting to note what happened when Paul informed them that they were “uncondemned Romans”. Roman society was very strict when it came to citizen rights and the denial of same, and here are these magistrates who had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten, and tossed in jail…and now they wanted them to go away “quietly”. The magistrates changed their tune; they more respectfully apologized and escorted the two from the prison. Though Paul and Silas “could’ve made a stink” about what had happened, they didn’t; they left town after visiting with their new Christian family.

We live in a world today that, more than often, seeks to treat Christians unfairly. Just remember, we have rights and resources others can only dream about…we have access to the Most High God. We can count on Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, in times of need as well as times of plenty. Never forget to Whom you belong.

Something to think about.

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