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Identified With Jesus

Acts 21:33-36
The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, 'Get rid of him!' (NIVUK)

Paul's life was possibly minutes away from extinction. The religious mob in Jerusalem were already beating the apostle, but he was saved by the arrival of a troop of soldiers with their commander. Order had to be restored and so he was arrested and put in chains as a demonstration that the Roman authorities were in control and not the angry crowd. Even so it was not an easy job.

Asking the people to accuse Paul of a crime, different people shouted out different answers. Possibly it was impossible to hear clearly what was being said because of the noisy crowd reverberating in the narrow streets. So the prisoner had to be taken back to the guardroom to be questioned. But that was not easy either. The pressure of the mob and their violence prevented Paul walking up the steps to the barracks even though he was flanked by soldiers. They eventually carried Paul above the crowd up to the safety of the doorway.

The air was filled with chanting, like that surrounding the Lord Jesus when He was taken before Pilate the governor: "Away with him, away with Him." (John 19:15) Perhaps the riot organisers hoped that this military governor would also give in to their demands. Certainly Paul was ready to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13), but that was not the Lord's plan. However, hearing those cries would have encouraged the apostle that he was being so closely associated with Jesus in His death.

Although we like all the blessings of God's protection, health and empowerment to serve Him, the reality is that we often have to suffer because we belong to Jesus (Acts 14:22). In John 15:20-21 Jesus says, "Remember what I told you: "A servant is not greater than his master." If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me." Persecution because you identify with Jesus is a reason to rejoice (Acts 5:41). The promise of our eternal inheritance with Jesus should sustain us in the hard times while we are shielded by God's power (1 Peter 1:3-7) so that we can continue to do whatever He asks of us.

Almighty God. Thank You that Jesus identified with me when He died to be punished for my sins. I am sorry for the times when I have shrunk back from being identified with Him. Although I do not like opposition, please help me to see beyond the immediate threats so that I can fix my eyes on Jesus in His glory coming for me. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams