19:30 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.
Today I wanted to focus on these two verses in the midst of the riot. The whole city is in an uproar. The mob has seized some of the believers and are headed for the theater. Paul is aware but not there. He wants to go but first his own disciples prevent him and then we are told some of government officials who care about him send word for him to not come.
Not very heroic. This would not fly in a Hollywood production. The hero must make an appearance at the climax of the danger and save the day.
Why the insistence that Paul in essence save himself? Was God in this or was this just the fear driven men trying to preserve Paul's life and not even considering God’s will?
Well let be the first to admit we aren't told explicitly. However there are clues. If the crowd screamed for two hours so that Alexander couldn't speak, what makes us think they would have let Paul speak? If the crowd was in a frenzy because the teachings of Paul were a threat to their religion, culture, and civic pride, how much greater would the frenzy have become if he was there in person?
I want to consider some very definite instructions Jesus gave when He was still here. In Matthew 24 when He was describing the events that would transpire in the future He said a false Messiah would come, a Jesus imposter. Then He very emphatically said when you hear news that "He" is in a certain place don't go in to see. When you hear "He" is out in a certain place do not go out to check it out.
Strong words. Unmistakable instructions. They fly in the face of our inquisitive nature and examining culture.
The one fact we can draw from these words is that there are some places we ought not go. I believe God did not want Paul in that theater. Here's the main reason why I believe that. Paul is not the hero of the Story. God wants us all to know that. We are not the heros. The pressure of fighting the great controversy between good and evil is not to rest on our shoulders. We are never to allow the privilege of serving Him to be confused with the notion that He needs us. God wants us. If He needed us then that makes for at least two major problems. The first is that God is not truly God and secondly He is then forced to use us to fight His battles. Neither are anywhere close to the truth.
Jesus came to this world without our help or input. He went to the cross without the support of even one human friend. He is the hero.
That day in Ephesus Paul was seen by the mob to be the source of this movement called "The Way". Yet without Paul's presence God found a way to settle things down because He is the Hero. And make no mistake, God is not an egomaniac who needs the attention. He just loves us too much to put pressures on us that we can't handle. There will be times when He does call us to step up and play a tough role that makes us seem like the hero but ultimately we must keep proper perspective. The Story is not about David the Goliath slayer, or Moses the Pharoah beater, or anyone else who did great things by God's power. When we get Home they will all bow in His presence with us because they will be under no delusion. He is the Hero. There is no other.