19:23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
I apologize for the long reading but it is necessary in order to capture the full context and maintain the integrity of the story. Can you picture the scene? Have you been part of a public demonstration? Admittedly they aren't common in our culture. Mobs are even less common but it's important to understand their dynamics. It started with a false premise. Demetrius the silversmith was upset because business was drying up. However that's not what he presented. He made it about religion. He made it about local and national pride. He created the illusion that Christianity was a threat to all of it when really he was just trying to save his business. The first group he appealed to were the other artisans and craftsmen - those he knew would sympathize with him. Once he had them worked up into a frenzy the whole city got swept up like toppling dominoes.
Can you even begin to picture it?
Here's the point that jumped out at me this morning. They refused to even consider allowing Alexander to speak simply because he was Jewish. For two hours he tried. For two hours they drowned his attempts.
We live in a very different era. No one can silence anyone's voice now. The internet has made it impossible. However there is a different kind of censorship. There is a different way to silence any voice. You just refuse to listen because he is Muslim or she is a woman or a liberal or a Christian or an atheist or black or...
I work with people every day. I know how real this phenomenon is. We too easily tune out because we judge the source before we ever consider the message.
Jesus was from Nazareth. Tune Him out. Jesus was an illegitimate child born in scandal. Tune Him out. Jesus doesn't keep the Sabbath as He should. Tune Him out. Jesus... just look at His friends... tune Him out. His best disciples are ignorant fishermen, tune Him out. He doesn't give the religious leaders the respect they deserve, tune Him out. He has no degrees, no formal education of any kind, tune Him out. Have you seen the sandals He wears?! Tune Him out already...