Thursday, September 15, 2016

15 September 2016
Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. Acts 16:30-34 (NRSV)
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” John 12:27-36 (NRSV)

            Good morning, welcome. Our passage in Acts today finds Paul and Silas in jail. Their exorcism of the slave girl had cost her owners money. The owner’s complaint, although motivated by financial loss, accuses Paul and Silas of unlawful religious practice. The magistrates feared rebellion-the one thing Rome would not tolerate-and took immediate action. Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and thrown in jail. Their response? Prayer and worship, a powerful witness to their fellow prisoners. Keep this idea of witness in mind.
            While worshipping a powerful earthquake hits the jail. Doors open, chains unfasten, yet no one leaves. The result is the conversion of the jailer and his entire family. The jailer and his family are immediately baptized. They dressed Paul and Silas’ wounds; share a meal; rejoice over their conversion. There are two supernatural events recorded here-the earthquake, and the conversion. The first was to facilitate the second. The earthquake was not to free Paul and Silas; it was to free the jailer and his family. Paul and Silas had been faithful witnesses. Now the jailer and his family will be as well. But the story isn’t over yet. In the morning the magistrates send police to release Paul and Silas. What they don’t know is the pair are Roman citizens; everything the magistrates had done was highly illegal. Paul demands and receives an apology and is asked to leave.
            Paul and Silas had plenty of opportunities to assert their rights; they did not. This is about being a witness in adversity. It is about people being restored. Paul did not demand an apology for himself; he wanted legitimacy and protection for the church he founded. The take-away here is this. We have rights as American citizens. We also have responsibilities as Kingdom citizens. What we choose affects our witness; our witness may very well affect someone’s eternal destiny. For sure it will affect ours. The jailer was not converted by force of will. He was converted by force of witness.
            In today’s Gospel Jesus hints at what His death will accomplish. For too long sin has given the ruler of this world legitimate claim; this will end when Jesus is lifted up. His death will be for all people; not for a select few. This will glorify the Father whose voice affirms Jesus’ divine mission. The key phrase here is ‘I will draw all people’. I believe all people means all people. I am not addressing faith here, I am addressing availability. Jesus Himself will draw. Our job-our assignment-is to be a witness.
            Once again we see God the Father addressing God the Son. The relationship between the Trinity is the example-the template-for human relationship. Relationship is why we are here. Paul applies this to marriage but Jesus applies it to all relationships when He says ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. Paul shows us what this looks like in Philippi .As you go through your day today, look for opportunities to lift someone up. It doesn’t take much-a smile, addressing the checkout cashier by name, holding a door. Be the witness you are called to be.

May the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all today. JRG

No comments:

Post a Comment