"We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him." The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.
Thoughts for Today:You have probably heard the old joke that is often targeted at lawyers or politicians: How do you know a (lawyer or politician) is lying? Answer: when his lips are moving. In our passage today, Tertullus is a litigator who was hired by the Jews to bring charges against Paul is speaking. But is he lying or just "spinning" the truth? It seems, a bit of both. Let's look at each accusation:
* Was Paul a troublemaker? Wherever Paul went in the Jewish community he created controversy because he spoke the truth of the Messiah who was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. And people believed.
* A ringleader of the Nazarene sect? The people who were against the early church insulted new believers either by calling them Nazarenes (referring to Nazareth, the small town Jesus came from and which Nathaniel referred to in John 1:40, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?").
* Did he try to desecrate the temple? The rumor mill had it that Paul had taken Gentiles into the temple. Although this was not true, Tertullus was more concerned with winning the case than he was with the facts.
Exaggeration, insult, and an outright lie -- that's pretty tough to defend.
For many of us the truth depends on your point of view. Jesus said, "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me," (John 18:37). Pontius Pilate replied, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). I guess getting to the truth can be confusing and difficult for some (like Pilate) -- it all depends on who you listen to. Who do you listen to?
Questions to Ponder:In these days of exaggeration, insults and lies, it can be very difficult to get at the truth. Eloquent speakers such as Tertullus come forward and spin facts toward their own self-interested conclusions. So how are we to know the right thing to do, the right cause to support, or who to believe?