Acts 21:26-36 (JDV)
Acts 21:26 So the next day, Paul took the men, having purified himself along with them, and entered the temple, announcing the completion of the purification days when the offering would be made for each of them.
Acts 21:27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw him in the temple, put the whole crowd in uproar, and forced hands on him,
Acts 21:28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place. What’s more, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this sacred place.”
Acts 21:29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they figured that Paul had brought him into the temple.
Acts 21:30 The whole city was stirred up, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul, dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut.
Acts 21:31 As they were trying to kill him, word went up to the commander of the regiment that all Jerusalem was in uproar.
Acts 21:32 Taking along soldiers and centurions, he immediately ran down to them. Seeing the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
Acts 21:33 Then the commander approached, took him into custody, and ordered him to be tied up with two chains. He asked who he was and what he had done.
Acts 21:34 Some in the crowd were shouting one thing and some another. Since he was not able to get reliable information because of the uproar, he ordered him to be taken into the barracks.
Acts 21:35 When Paul got to the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd,
Acts 21:36 because the mass of people followed, yelling, “Lift him up!”
How did Paul go from being the darling of his people — a Hebrew of Hebrews — to being public enemy number 1, a target of violence and hatred? It was a simple choice. He found that Jesus is the Messiah and so he chose to serve him and announce his gospel. The gospel was the reason that Paul’s life was in danger that day. The cultural clash that led to such hatred centered around a gospel fact, not a misunderstanding. That cultural fact is that you do not have to be Jewish or do any of the Jewish things in order to be forgiven by God through Christ.
That fact is crucial. The word crucial comes from the word cross. It is fitting because the crucial cultural fact that Paul declared had everything to do with the sufficiency of the death of Christ on the cross for the deliverance of all sinners.
No one is ever asked to renounce their culture in order to become Christian. Paul was still a Jew, and he was no real threat to those Jews that day. But for those who insisted that following the Jewish law and worshiping in the Jewish temple was the way to reach God, Paul’s message was clear: Jesus is the Way.
Lord, thank you for the one way you provided for all in Christ.