23:6 “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” 7 As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.
Did you catch that? The same Pharisees that openly wanted Paul dead suddenly find no fault with him. How did that happen?
Quite simple really. Do you remember the parable Jesus told about the scattered seed? Some fell on the path, some on rocky places etc... The seed that fell on rocky places grew quickly but died quickly because the roots had no depth of soil to grow in.
The accusations against Paul had no roots. The fury sprang up quickly but it was rooted in gossip, hearsay, and lies. The left (Sadducees) and the right (Pharisees) are normally bitter enemies but they found cooperation in a common enemy just like when they killed Jesus. Their teamwork was going well until Paul declared himself a Pharisee. That alone divided the room. To this declaration he added that the real reason he was so hated was because he proclaimed the hope of the resurrection. Suddenly everything changed. The Pharisees who had been so eager to kill Paul were now defending him and ready to kill the Sadducees.
It got so heated so fast that the commander had to again send in his soldiers because he was legitimately afraid Paul would get torn apart in the crossfire.
What was really happening?
|"Roman officials" observing the "Pharisees" and "Sadducees"|
Have you ever worked with a system that is under pressure? Water under pressure like the cooling system in your car when it gets too hot? Gas under pressure maybe? Any substance contained under pressure is looking for an escape. Recently a friend of ours was using a pressure cooker in her kitchen and it exploded. She was fortunate that she was not seriously hurt. You may remember that the bombers at the Boston marathon used a pressure cooker for their explosives.
Anything under pressure is looking for an escape route.
Here's the truth. Those men in Jerusalem were so full of anger and hatred that all they needed was a trigger. Their hearts and minds were like grenades just waiting for someone to pull the pin.
The gossip that swirled around the myths of 'Paul the law despiser' added to the pressure and when a voice spoke and a finger pointed in the temple that day the dam broke and the crowd became a mob in a flash. Then when Paul declared himself a Pharisee preaching the resurrection the fury simply got redirected to a new target.
What is the point?
How we behave toward others says a lot more about us than it does about them. They just become an outlet for the poisons within us. Anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred are all toxic buildup in a heart that never learned to forgive.
It was understandable. The Jews had a long history of war and conflict within themselves and with the world around them. The Jews that became followers of Jesus brought the anger with them. They changed churches but the wounds within them didn't heal. The truth is they got worse. Becoming a follower of Jesus meant more losses, more conflict, more pain. Families split. Synagogues split. Communities split. The whole city and the nation beyond it's walls was split.
Jews were well trained in taking sides but forgiveness was a foreign concept. They majored in rage but knew little of reconciliation.
Somehow Jesus' dying words spoken of His enemies hadn't yet made it from His lips to their hearts: "Forgive them Father..."
A person who never learns to forgive is like contents under pressure and every little slight adds to it until one day an explosion takes place that to the bystanders (Roman commander) seems like irrational insanity.
Jesus forgave and said "Come follow Me."
Whatever you may be holding onto, let it go before it explodes.