Psalm 46-48 Acts 28
“Paul stayed two full years in his own rented house and welcomed all people who came to visit him. He boldly preached about the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one stopped him.” (Acts 28:30-31 NCV)
Paul’s journey from Malta to Rome is almost described as a triumphal entry. As he traveled, people welcomed him and invited him to stay with them. When he reached the outskirts of Rome, he found fellow followers of Christ who were waiting for him and cheered him along the way. It’s easy to forget that Paul was under arrest and had a soldier guarding him along the way. Imagine the impact these greetings must have had on the soldier. As believers shared how God was working, this soldier heard everything. He saw their genuine faith. There’s speculation that Luke wrote this book as part of Paul’s defense before Nero. If Nero so chose, he could have questioned this guard. The last two verses, though give us insight into the freedom Paul had while awaiting trial as well as letting Nero know that Paul was never any trouble or threat to Rome. This might be what Paul is referring to in Philippians 1:13 when he noted that the whole palace guard knew about him being in chains for Christ.
The book of Acts has tales of amazing conflict, miracles, and faith. It’s interesting that it ends on such a peaceful note. Whether Nero executed Paul because of this trial, or a second trial, he recognized one truth about those who are following Christ: we’re subversive to the order of society. If our allegiance is to the kingdom of God, then nationality takes a back seat. When society screams that we should gather all the stuff that we can, our God gently nudges us to give it away to those in need for the sake of the kingdom. When society tells us to “look out for number one” (meaning ourselves) Jesus tells us to pick up our cross daily. Luke’s words about Paul working peacefully to proclaim the kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus sounded peaceful, but Nero could see evidence of society changing before his eyes. He may have seen slaves and masters treated as equals in the eyes of the church, perhaps even encountered slaves who taught, or were freed by masters who followed Jesus. He may have seen women treated with respect, even as equals by followers of the Lord Jesus when society treated them as male property. He may have been uncomfortable hearing the response that only Jesus was Lord, especially amid reports that Christians wouldn’t follow the obligatory annual practice of worshiping Caesar. Many people look at miracles, signs, and wonders to prove the validity of Christ. I think the most revolutionary thing that Christians can do is live quietly for Christ, sharing the good news of the kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ with those we come into contact. Enjoy the miracles when they come, and I believe they will. In the meantime, keep living in and sharing the subversive, revolutionary gospel of Jesus Christ if you want to change the world.
Lord, help me to live for You every day. Let me exemplify the life You call Your people to live, let me share Your love and grace with those I meet, and use me to change the world.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved