21:34 But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; 36 for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, “Away with him!”
Odd isn't it? The crowd was in agreement that Paul needed to die but they couldn't agree on why. There was such confusion that the Roman commander ordered to have Paul removed from the situation so he could attempt to figure out what was going on.
These are adults. These are at least in name, believers. They claim to represent the One True God. Really? How do things like this happen? How does an entire culture lose it's collective mind?
We may not like the answer but it's actually pretty simple.
Religion talks a lot about witnessing, about drawing others in, about sharing their beliefs so as to entice others to believe the same way. I wonder what impression their "witness" was having on the Roman commander and his men that day?
Here's how things like this happen - truth gets left in the dust.
Think about it. The crowd is incensed because Paul has taken their religion and given it to the "Gentile dogs". That's really the bottom line. Prejudice is the underlying cause of their "righteous" indignation. What does that have to do with leaving truth in the dust?
In their sacred writings is a book about the prophet Jonah. He was called to preach to the Ninevites (Gentile dogs) about God. He refused to go. Finally through an extraordinary set of circumstances he did go and he did preach and they listened and they turned from their violence and evil. Jonah was angry. He did not want them to change. He wanted them to die. He hated them.
God did not and He did His best to help Jonah have some compassion.
Love for their enemies and love for the "Gentile dogs" was clearly taught in their own sacred writings. Truth was the antidote but they left truth in the dust.
Martin Luther was the now famous Catholic priest who back in the 1500's discovered a Bible chained to the wall at the University and began to read. Religion in his culture was a buy and sell. Heaven was for sale and you could buy it either with law keeping or with cash. Pay the church enough and they would forgive any and all sin. Martin did not have money so his only hope was law keeping and he knew in himself that this was a hopeless path.
As he read the Bible he found a different Story. He found the Story of faith. He found forgiveness not as a commodity to be bought and sold but as a gift provided by Jesus, the Lamb of God. The Bible verse that he found summed up his new faith was "The just shall live by faith". The verse is almost always quoted from Paul's writings in Romans 1 but few realize Paul was actually quoting from the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2:4) It was a truth the Jews had in their sacred writings all along. A truth they had left in the dust.
You see truth is the antidote to error and confusion. Had the Jews of that time embraced the two truths that God loves all men and that His love for us is a gift of grace not a commodity to be purchased, they would have been cheering Paul on instead of trying to kill him.
"You will know the truth and the truth will set you free and you will be free indeed" - Jesus
We are either a champion for truth or a confused angry embarrassment, a threat to ourselves and to others, a walking mess of confusion.
Forget about the obsession with who the president will be. We don't need a human hero. We need to seek the Truth.