Today’s reading: Acts 11-13.
“How do I tell a Jewish person the Good News?”
Paul left with Barnabas and John Mark on his first missionary journey in 48 AD, about eighteen years after the death of Jesus. It had been about fourteen years since his conversion. Persecution had scattered the church leading to a widening circle of influence. King Herod had executed James, the brother of John. Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus, then to Asia Minor. He visited the Synagogue there and preached to the Jews the good news of Jesus Christ. His message gives us an outline of one way to share that good news, including with those of the Jewish faith.
“The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” Acts 13: 27-33
- David’s descendant; God brought a savior from the line of David as he promised.
- Elijah’s entrance; John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah as foretold by Isaiah and Malachi.
- Promised prophecies; Jesus’ life and death mirrored all the words of the Law and the Prophets read weekly in the Synagogue.
Jesus’ resurrection. He did not remain in the grave but rose to life as the scriptures promised.
- Sin forgiven; “Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
- Warning given; Don’t ignore the revealed truth and fulfilled promises and become hardened as the prophets predicted.
It should come as no surprise that any people, including the Jews, resist the gospel. Jesus Himself experienced in his own body the full force of rejection by his own people. He did not cry out in amazement, “What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you know who I am? Can’t you just read Isaiah 53?” As He wept over Jerusalem, He cried out, “Oh, Jerusalem who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her.” He did not see His own rejection as an isolated event in the history of Israel, but as the culmination of a long history of resistance and rejection of the messengers of God. The Apostle Paul understood this when he declared that “the man without the spirit does not accept the things that come from the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and, he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinthians 2:14). There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles when it comes to the sinfulness of the human heart, which is the first and primary reason for Gospel resistance. – David N. Brickner
Image by wordsnpix on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0