Scripture Reading: Acts 21:27-36
“When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, ‘Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the laws and this place…Away with him!'” (Acts 21:27-28,36)
While participating in a Nazarite vow at the temple, Paul was attacked by an angry mob. These Jews accused Paul of defiling the temple by bringing a Gentile into the courts that only Jewish people could enter. Of course, this was not true. Paul would never do such a thing. The crowd became so violent that Roman soldiers had to intervene in order to save Paul’s life. As he was being carried away, the angry mob was crying out, “Away with him!”
These words remind me of the words of the angry mob which demanded Jesus’ crucifixion several years before this incident with Paul: “But they all cried out together, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas'” (Luke 23:18). Paul like Jesus was a threat to the Jewish religious institution of their day. When religious traditions are challenged, emotions run high. People driven by religion have done terrible things. Throughout history, wars have been fought; people have been brutally tortured and murdered; and there have been many other abuses — all in the name of religion. Religion is one of the greatest enemies of the gospel.
The gospel leads to humility, brokenness and grace. It forces us to face our own failures, sins and inadequacies. Then out of our brokenness, we are able to extend grace to others, even to those who do not believe what we believe. It allows us to reach out to others in love and it encourages us to be gracious even to our enemies. Religion says, “Away with him!’ The gospel says, “Love and serve him.” What a difference!
Lord Jesus, enable me to show love and kindness to others today, even to those who do not believe as I believe. Grant me grace to see others through Your eyes. I know you see all my sins, my failures and my inadequacies. Keep me broken and contrite as I deal with others.
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