Acts 13:26-27 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognise Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath.”
It is hard for us to imagine the intensity of emotion with which the Apostle Paul would have spoken these words in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (NE of the modern village of Yalvac in central western Turkey).
He himself, as a Pharisee, would have been one of the “people of Jerusalem and their rulers” who “did not recognise Jesus, yet in condemning him … fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath”! And here he was sharing the Good News with those gathered in the synagogue as ‘brothers, children of Abraham’, the very people to whom the promised Messiah/Saviour had come.
What a powerful transformation there would have been in his thinking as he had read over very familiar Scriptures in Damascus after his encounter with the risen Christ on his way there! How his heart would have been moved as he saw afresh God’s absolute SOVEREIGNTY over ALL the events of human history. It is not surprising that Luke went on to report: “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appoihnted for eternal life believed” (verse 48)!
Do we feel a sense of excitement as we read Old Testament Scriptures and recognise (perhaps for the first time) how they point to Christ, and see, with the apostle Paul that “no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘YES’ in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20a). Does all this lead us to a greater desire to see Jewish people today having the ‘veil’ taken from their eyes/hearts (cf 2 Corinthians 3:214-16), and to pray regularly for those involved in Jewish evangelism?
And as we reflect on Paul also directing his remarks to the ‘God-fearing Gentiles’ in the Synagogue, does this move us to thank God for his grace and mercy in opening OUR sin-hardened hearts to embrace the ‘message of salvation’? And does this give us a greater desire to look for opportunities to share the Good News of the message of salvation with others around us?
– Bruce Christian