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Why Do People Talk Against Jesus?

Acts 28:21-22
They replied, 'We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.' (NIVUK)

Paul, under house arrest in Rome, had invited the Jewish religious leaders to his home. As a committed Jew, he called them his 'brothers', explaining that he loved the Scriptures and his people. He had not broken any Roman law, but had appealed to Caesar because the authorities could not resolve, what they saw as, a religious dispute. Paul wanted to tell the religious leaders about the Lord Jesus, whose personal commission motivated his preaching (Acts 28:17-20).

The response was rather strange. They said that they had not received any bad reports about Paul, and that none of the religious leaders in Jerusalem had said anything about their accusation against Paul to the authorities over the previous two and a half years. That was highly unlikely as all the leaders in Rome would have travelled to at least one, if not the three, feasts in Jerusalem each year. As the local representatives of a recognised religion in the Roman Empire, it is unthinkable that they did not know what had been going on.

Indeed, they admitted that they had heard about the Christians. Apparently, everybody knew about this fast growing and 'dangerous' sect of the Jewish faith. The concern was not just in Jerusalem but in what is now Turkey and Greece. There was even a church in Rome. The Roman Empire was well connected, as we see from the way in which Paul's team communicated and moved to different countries with ease. So, were the religious leaders lying? Or were they just being culturally polite, giving Paul the benefit of the doubt? There was a deep dis-ease about the Christians, but perhaps nobody could identify why they were concerned.

If Jesus is considered to be a teacher, a prophet, a good example and a kind benefactor; almost nobody has a problem. But when Jesus is declared as the Messiah of Israel the Jews have a problem; when He is proclaimed as God, many religionists are alarmed. When He is described as the King of kings and Lord of lords, authorities are concerned; because He has been given all authority over everything and everybody. Deep within the human soul there is both a longing to know intimacy with God, and a fear of meeting Him. Our sinful nature does not want anybody to rule over us, and so we avoid Jesus the King. We choose our own ways to be safe and so we resist the embrace of the Saviour. That is why the world needs the gospel of a King who is love; of a God who will forgive. But the message of salvation and the gospel messengers are rejected: as Jesus was (John 1:10-11). That is the reality of living for Christ in a Christless world. But if we do not announce the Saviour, who will be saved (Romans 10:14-15)?

Father God. Thank You for the privilege of announcing Jesus the Saviour to a broken world. I am sorry for the times when I was more concerned about being wounded than proclaiming Jesus who was wounded for us all. Please help me to understand the world's inner struggle with Jesus, and also its huge need of the only Person who can bring wholeness and forgiveness to sin-scarred hearts. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams