The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. [Previously, Paul speaking: "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "] Then they raised their voices and shouted, "Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!"
Thoughts for Today:Recently I was witnessing to a man I met about Jesus. Everything was going fine until I mentioned one word: Savior. I said, "We are all sinners and without a Savior we deserve to be punished for our wrongdoing." That concept is where I completely lost him. It seems it is the same place so many in our society today are lost -- on Jesus. He is the "stumbling block," just as He is the "capstone" or key to eternity.
In our passage today, Paul lost the crowd as well when he mentioned the one word "Gentile." The Jews didn't like a lot of what Paul spoke about (for example: Jesus as God, the resurrection of the dead, etc), but the one thing that angered them most was the idea that the Gentiles could be "grafted" into what they considered their "private" family of God. It caused them to reject everything else Paul had to say. On the other hand, in our modern society the idea of exclusion ("If you don't believe in Jesus...") causes a similar type of reaction (although hopefully less violent).
The Jews didn't want anyone other than themselves to be included within God's family; and just the opposite, modern man doesn't want anyone excluded. Both are rooted in two major fundamental flaws dating back to the Garden of Eden: Man's desire to be God's equal, and his unwillingness to submit and obey God's will. My friend didn't want to acknowledge his need for a Savior, a higher power who could and would judge his life. And the Jews didn't want Jesus as God (Leviticus 26:12 "I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people") to change the rules of their very exclusive club. Do you see yourself in any of these descriptions?
Questions to Ponder:We don't get to make the rules for this life or the next; God does. Does that statement bother you? It certainly bugged my friend and caused the Jews in today's passage to riot. In what area of your life are you having trouble following God? Is it because of what you need to do (include), or what you need to stop doing (exclude)? Both require a willingness to submit and obey God. Why is that so hard for us?