ACTS 22: A GLOBAL CONSPIRACY
There doesn’t seem much in life today, that’s not been filtered before it gets to us. Everything seems tampered with. Even food that looks healthy, is likely to have been sprayed with stuff, or processed before it goes into the packet. Does anyone know, for example, why a bag of 100% oats would have a gluten warning on it when gluten come from wheat? Then, the bag of gluten free oats is three time the price! What’s that about?!
In just the same way, the oral version of the Creator God’s story has been handed down to many of us, in a filtered way. The written version is still as reliable as one could possibly hope for, considering that the oldest bits are about conversations and events that took place 4,000+ years ago! The accuracy of the written versions that the Creator God has preserved for us today, have been further authenticated with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1950s. So accurate are our copies, when compared with the scrolls found, that the Creator’s Handbook for Life is none other than a modern-day literary miracle. But it’s the oral hear-say version, and the bits that we’re not told, that’s annoying.
Going back to my “food gripe”, I get annoyed when the headlines say that butter causes cancer. But then, a few years later, they say it’s good for you. They seem to change the goal posts all the time, just as they’ve done with Jesus. The word on the street, for example, is that He’s a man not the Lord. He was a sinner with a secret family, not the Righteous One. He didn’t rise again from the dead, so He can’t appear to anyone or speak. In reality, however (and if you’re willing to go to the written version), it seems clear to me that the continuing controversy over Jesus, for the past 2,000 years ago, is actually hinged on what we’re not told.
If you’ve been following my Breadcrumbs over the past few days, you’ll know that today’s chapter was written by a non-Jewish 1st Century doctor called Luke, to a Roman government official with the title: Most Excellent Theophilus.[a] Since this title was also used for Felix, governor of the region around Caesarea[b], we can be sure that Theophilus is high up in the Roman system. This is great for us because we can be sure that every time there’s civil unrest, arrests, imprisonments, or inquiry hearings in Luke’s report, Theophilus can easily double check Luke’s information with his colleagues in other cities. If Luke was to try “pull a fast one” on a Roman at this level of authority, Roman punishments were renowned for their barbaric severity. He’d be as good as dead.
So, with nothing to gain and everything to lose, Luke recounts exactly what he saw and heard and, in the process, uncovered what could be defined as a deliberate global conspiracy today.
The events of today’s chapter took place in Jerusalem. And, just as Jesus had been put on trial there, the whole city was aroused and people came running from every direction.[c] Paul, a Jewish religious academic – with dual citizenship, a Roman from birth v23-28 – was dragged from the Temple courts, just as Jesus had been, and arrested by the Commander of the Roman troops.[d] But here’s the thing – and this really is the ground upon which we now have what it is that we’ve been handed down… right to this very day…
The religious zealots of the day (those people who knew everything there was to know about the Creator God) seemed to remain totally quiet when Paul spoke about his vison of Jesus of Nazareth. [v8]
Their Teachers of the Law didn’t raise the alarm when Paul called this Jesus, “Lord”. [v10]
There wasn’t any protests at all when Ananias – a respected Jewish leader in Damascus – called Jesus “the Righteous One”. [v14]
They remain composed when Paul said that he saw Jesus in another vision warning Paul that the people won’t accept this testimony. [v18]
A second time Paul called Jesus “Lord” [v19] and all through the story, no-one’s making a sound in protest! Apparently, none of the above is worth shouting about!
I had to smile, then, when I got to v22-23, because of how ridiculous the scene appears to the modern reader. I have to apologize upfront, for having no historical connection or knowledge of ancient middle-eastern culture. My ignorance has made their behaviour seem outrageous to me!
Whatever the cultural norms, it’s very clear from the written record, that they were totally quiet right up until Paul made his fatal mistake. If there’s a global conspiracy out there at all, then there’s one big issue that we’re not told about. It seems that the “problem with Jesus” that’s been hanging over the planet for 2,000 years, isn’t about what He said and did that’s wrong. Nor is what His Followers said that’s wrong. It seems to me that the issue isn’t His title of Lord or, the Righteous One – which is the Creator God’s messiah/saviour.
The problem at the very beginning of this 2,000-year-old debate, is about something completely different! At the heart of the controversy about Jesus is something that no-one I know of, has ever brought up in any of the discussions that I’ve had in the 80 countries that I’ve visited over 3+ decades. All hell broke loose, only when Paul revealed the Creator God’s Global Masterplan i.e. that the Creator’s Good News, which He accomplished through Jesus[e], is for non-Jews as well as Jews. [v21] He’ll sprinkle many nations, and many nations will be amazed at Him…
“For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.” [Isaiah 52:15]
The Creator God revealed this at this point in the storyline, not because He’s changing the goal posts. Nor are the 1st Century Believers deluded into changing the goal posts. It’s instead, the fulfilment of a pact that the Creator made with Abraham 4,000+/- year ago: that all families on earth will be “blessed” through him and his descendants.[f] And what “blessing” is there on this earth, then to be welcomed back into the inner-circle of our Creator – the One who made us in His image to be like Him?[g]
In addition, one of those close descendants, Ephraim (Abraham’s Great-Grandson) later became a whole table/ group/multitude/fullness of nations.[h] This means that these so-called “Gentiles” (a term that’s clearly looked upon as second-class citizens in the 1st Century AD, simply because they were non-Jewish and therefore uneducated heathens in relation to the promises of God), could certainly be descendants of Ephraim, and absolutely central to Father God’s Global Masterplan for their nations too!
So, looking now at yet another chapter in the Creator God’s Epic Storyline, I’m thinking that if that’s it; if that’s the central problem that’s wrong with Jesus; if that’s what they’re protesting in shouts, throwing their cloaks down, flinging dust in the air, and probably still protesting about today; then I’m SO glad that Jesus made Himself known to a “gentile” like me. Now I’m part of my Father God’s global family from every tribe, tongue and nation and that’s what makes me sing today…
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-2
[b] Acts 23:26 & 26:25
[c] Acts 21:30
[d] Acts 21:31-32
[e] Isaiah 52:7&10 and Isaiah 53 (whole chapter)
[f] Genesis 12:3
[g] Genesis 1:26-28
[h] Genesis 48:19