Way to Go, MA!

Please read Luke 4:38-44 in your Bible.

Way to go, Ma! (1)Image by James Best, (C) 2020,https://www.behance.net/gallery/90621713/Sermon-Illustrations-2020

I’m sorely tempted today.  On the one hand, today we recognize the ladies in our lives: it is our Mother’s Day service.  So a mother-in-law joke or two is sort of on-topic.  And – as this message is on tape delay, I can get away with it!  On the other hand, today is Mother’s Day, so mother-in-law jokes are less appropriate.  And most of you know where I live.  So let’s compromise.  If you know a mother-in-law joke, type it in the “comments” section below the video.

Here are a couple holiday-appropriate stories.  On a Mother’s Day morning, two young children told their mother to stay in bed.  As she lay there looking forward to having breakfast in bed, the smell of bacon floated up from the kitchen.  But she waited and waited and finally could stand it no longer.  She went downstairs to discover her children finishing up plates of bacon and eggs and toast.

“As a surprise for Mother’s Day,” one of them explained, “we decided to cook our own breakfast!”  I assume she was surprised!

On another Mother’s Day another family decided to surprise grandma with breakfast in bed.  Unfortunately, the surprise was spoiled for when they got to grandma’s house they discovered she was still in bed, feeling ill.

As they were making their exit, a young granddaughter stood beside grandma’s nightstand, not budging, her eyes fixed on grandma’s dentures soaking in a glass of water.

The mother said, “Honey, we’ve got to go.  What’re you looking at?”

The little one pointed to the glass and said, “The tooth fairy will never believe THIS!”

Now we’re ready to go on to Luke 4:38-44, where Simon Peter’s mother-in-law played a supporting role.

CONTEXT: Jesus had just made a big appearance in a synagogue at the Jewish Sabbath (LKE 4:31-37).  It was there He cast a demon out of a man.  The amazed witnesses spread word about Jesus THROUGHOUT THE SURROUNDING AREA.

In chapter five, Jesus will begin calling His twelve disciples, do a couple more dramatic healings, and teach on the subject of fasting. We are clearly at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and He got off in dramatic fashion.  Our passage is an interlude of sorts.  Here we see Jesus using His healing power on a personal scale, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, then on a public scale as all kinds of sick folk were brought to Him, and finally defining His mission as preaching.  We can see how these three brief incidents set forth a summary of what Jesus’ ministry was all about.

Jesus’ mission centered on preaching and included healing.

  1. What a Mother-in-Law Peter had! (38-39)

Jesus and Simon (whom Jesus would call to ministry in 5:10) left the synagogue for Saturday dinner.  Maybe something equivalent to our Sunday dinner?

Simon’s mother-in-law was sick at the time: she had a HIGH FEVER.  In 1 Corinthians 9:5, Paul wrote that Simon Peter was married. The fact that his mother-in-law lived with Simon may imply that her husband was dead.  In that case, she no longer had a home of her own and had to come under some other male’s headship.

As most people lived in single-room homes, a contagious illness was a threat to everyone who visited the house.  On this occasion there was more than family involved: Mark reported the whole city had gathered outside the home.  One reason Jesus acted promptly was to allow the safe use of Simon’s home.

Luke was a physician and accordingly, he gives us a little more information than Mark or Matthew: Luke tells us her fever was HIGH (a serious condition) and the miracle Jesus used to heal her.     All Jesus’ healings used different methods and means.  He did not want anyone to think that the healings happened because of certain words, gestures, or some kind of medicine.  The healings were neither magic nor medicine.

In this case, however, Jesus’ method was similar to what He’d done earlier in the synagogue: there He’d rebuked the demon and it left.  Here he rebuked the illness the FEVER in Simon’s mother-in-law and IT LEFT HER.  Luke alone adds the detail AT ONCE to give more evidence to the supernatural, miraculous nature of this healing.

It is a small detail, but Luke recorded that Jesus BENT OVER HER to speak the words of rebuke.  He was not intimidated by her illness, Jesus got “up close & personal.”

Once healed, Simon’s mother-in-law got up and showed hospitality to Simon, Jesus and all who’d come along.  Whatta gal!  She might have wanted to rest, but instead she got up and went to work feeding Simon’s guests.

  1. What a healer Jesus was! (40-41)

WHEN THE SUN WAS SETTING means the Sabbath was over; people could travel without breaking the Law and Jesus could heal without breaking the Law.  Word spread fast and people took advantage of having a healer in their midst.

Jesus healed ALL the people brought to Him, in their VARIOUS KINDS OF SICKNESSES.  First, we note Jesus did not discriminate between persons (He healed the ALL) or between diseases (VARIOUS KINDS).  On this occasion Jesus healed by LAYING HIS HANDS ON THEM.  On other occasions He would use other methods.

On the other hand, He cast out demons with a REBUKE.  Ironically, it was the demons who were the first to testify Jesus was the SON OF GOD.  Jesus silenced them and cast them out with a rebuke (as he had cast Simon’s mother-in-law’s fever).  His word alone was sufficiently powerful to overthrow Satan’s minions from these people.

The fact that Luke reported a difference between SICKNESSES and DEMONS implies that not all illness is an affliction from the devil.  People of his time assumed illness was caused by evil spirits or the patient’s sin, but this is not always true.  Unfortunately, that error persists among Christians to this day.

Why did Jesus silence them?  This happens a lot in the Gospels, especially in Mark.  It is called the “Messianic Secret.”  Early in His ministry, Jesus wanted people to focus on His message and not get distracted on deciding whether or not He was the Messiah.  Jesus sought to exert control on public opinion in order to make it most powerful just prior to His arrest, trial, and execution.  This was intended to force the hand of the authorities.  Jesus managed public opinion to leverage His own death!  Since that week was about three years away, He wanted to keep things chill at this time.

Another reason for the “Messianic Secret” was an attempt to limit the size of the crowds following Him.  Big crowds would inhibit Jesus’ movement and ministry.  Worse, they might force the issue too soon.  In John 6:15 we read that Jesus withdrew from a crowd because He knew they intended to make Him King by force.  Jesus wanted no earthly crown and He did not want to put His people in harm’s way by inciting a riot!  Jesus was in control.

  1. What a preacher Jesus was! (42-44)

Every preacher must withdraw regularly to A SOLITARY PLACE to prepare for preaching and recover from preaching.  In 5:16, Luke explained this practice: BUT JESUS OFTEN WITHDREW TO LONELY PLACES AND PRAYED.  This aspect of a preacher’s life is like juggling, trying to keep the “balls” of time for people, time for study, and time for self all in the air at once.  When these three demands get out of balance, troubles ensue.

THEY TRIED TO KEEP HIM FROM LEAVING THEM: this is the opposite kind of reaction Jesus got from the people of His hometown, Nazareth, when He preached in their synagogue (Luke 4:28-30).  It was also the kind of situation He was working to avoid.

Jesus responded by telling them He hadn’t been called to Capernaum only, but had to preach to THE OTHER TOWNS ALSO.  Jesus’ mission was to TEACH THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.  The KINGDOM OF GOD is a key teaching in Jesus’ ministry.  Of the 64 times this phrase is used in the New Testament, 31 of them are in Luke.  In His teaching, Jesus said that the KINGDOM OF GOD arrived with Him and that it was also not fully present until the end of the age.  The Kingdom exists spiritually in everyone who follows Jesus.  It will exist physically in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Luke did not mention Jesus’ healing ministry at all in verse 43.  This omission may imply that His healing ministry was secondary to His preaching, though it was clearly His healing power that the people wanted most.

Jesus left them and kept His word: HE KEPT ON PREACHING IN THE SYNAGOGUES OF JUDEA.  (The name JUDEA was, confusingly, used as the Roman name of the province where Jerusalem was located and in a more general sense for everywhere in Palestine where Jews lived, including Galilee.) Jesus was sent first to the Jews; in Matthew 15:24 He said, “I WAS SENT TO THE LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL.”  He met the people where they were, where they gathered for worship.

Jesus’ mission centered on preaching and included healing.

We have observed the good example set by Simon’s mother-in-law, who, when healed, rose from her bed of sickness and set to work to provide for her son-in-law and his guests.  Though she is not named, her example has been preserved throughout the ages.  She set a very high standard of love and service.

In this set of verses Luke provided us with a set of situations that summarize the earthly ministry of Jesus.  He was public and private, personal and communal.  He ministered healing, deliverance from evil, and preached the Kingdom of God.  Writing the book of Acts, Luke quoted this same Simon Peter’s summary of Jesus’ ministry, re-affirming the truths we have observed in this passage from his Gospel: “HOW GOD ANOINTED JESUS OF NAZARETH WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND POWER, AND HOW HE WENT AROUND DOING GOOD AND HEALING ALL WHO WERE UNDER THE POWER OF THE DEVIL, BECAUSE GOD WAS WITH HIM.” (Acts 10:38)

 

RESOURCES:

Zondervan Bible Commentary, “Luke,” Laurence E. Porter.

The NIV Application Commentary, “Luke,” Darrell L. Bock.

The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study, “The Gospels,” Darrell L. Bock, Ed.

One Perfect Life, John MacArthur.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, “Luke,” Walter L. Liefield.

The Daily Study Bible Series, “The Gospel of Luke,” William Barclay.

More than One Kind of Blindness

blindness

We must open our eyes & hearts to see God at work.

          One morning, while mom and pop were seated at the breakfast table, the doorbell rang.  It took a moment for the older couple to hear it, and the husband said over his paper, “The door bell is ringing.”

The wife reluctantly got to her feet and went to the door.  Opening it, she saw a man standing outside.  His shirt said “Best Blinds.” The man said, “I’m here for the Venetian blind.” Excusing herself in a preoccupied way, the wife went to the kitchen, fished a dollar from the loose change jar, and returned to the door.  She pressed the coins into the man’s hand, then gently closed the door and returned to the table.

“Somebody collecting for a foreign charity,” she explained, pouring herself some more coffee.

“When is somebody gonna get here to fix that shade?” the man asked resignedly.

https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/77765/aging-by-gordon-curley?ref=TextIllustrationSerps

Get it?  Venetian blind?  Well, not everyone knows good humor when they see it!

That joke illustrates how misunderstandings arise, especially when we aren’t looking.  Today let’s open our eyes to see Jesus’ teaching.  In John 9 we see three kinds of blindness; one physical and two metaphorical.

  1. Mental blindness: ignorance. (9:1-5)

As we all do, the disciples struggled to understand God’s reasons for a tragic circumstance (vs. 1-2).  All blindness is tragic, but the disciples were moved by this man born blind.

Let’s think about their question.  First, it is evidence of a frequent human shortcoming: fault-finding.  When something is wrong, the first thing we want to do is find someone to blame.  Sad, isn’t it?

Second, the question itself doesn’t sound right to our ears.  The first half of the question sounds ludicrous: how could an unborn baby be guilty of any sin, let alone one deserving of such a penalty?  We need to evaluate this question in the light of the Scripture and the traditions that gave rise to the inquiry; what information the disciples had at that moment.

In Psalm 51:15, David wrote, SURELY I WAS SINFUL AT BIRTH, SINFUL FROM THE TIME MY MOTHER CONCEIVED ME.  This indicates David had at least wondered if an unborn child could be considered a sinner.   Jewish teachers of the time thought that if a pregnant woman committed a sin, the baby within her was guilty too.  In verse 34, the Pharisees accused the former blind beggar of being “STEEPED IN SIN AT BIRTH;” they believed him guilty.  The first half of the question made more sense in Peter’s situation.

The other half of the disciples’ question sounds unfair: why punish a baby for the parents’ sin?  In the Second Commandment the Lord warned, “I, THE LORD YOUR GOD, AM A JEALOUS GOD, PUNISHING THE CHILDREN FOR THE SIN OF THE FATHERS TO THE THIRD AND FOURTH GENERATION OF THOSE WHO HATE ME (Exodus 20:5).  To be fair, this warning is later replaced with a promise NOT to do that but our point is simply that this was a legitimate issue at the time this miracle occurred.

Though we have shown there were biblical and traditional bases for this question, the disciples’ question is still the wrong one to ask as the focus of the question is on the people, not on God.  A better question is, “How is God at work here?  How can we join Him?”

Jesus explained the ultimate reason for human suffering (vs. 3-5). The man’s blindness was not a punishment for sin but an opportunity for THE WORK OF GOD TO BE DISPLAYED IN HIS LIFE. Every circumstance has this purpose because God is ALWAYS at work in ALL our lives.  Verses four to five tell us the WORK OF GOD was to be displayed by Jesus while He ministered among them.  He had a limited time to minister but the world needed a lot of LIGHT shed on it.

  1. Physical blindness: inability to see (9:6-8).

Jesus used unusual means to heal this man’s blindness.  The miracles Jesus performed were as individual as the people involved; there is no set pattern to them.  For a set of reasons not expressed in this passage, Jesus chose to make mud out of spit and put it on the man’s eyelids.  This required him to wash his face in the Pool of Siloam.  John saw the name of the pool as being significant; Jesus SENT the blind man there to receive his sight and Jesus was SENT by God the Father to give LIGHT to the world.

The man’s blindness was cured.  One reason for Jesus’ method in this case may’ve been that it required an act of obedience on the part of the blind man.  Once he demonstrated his obedience in going there and washing his face, he could see.  Afterward, he wanted to go was home to see his parents for the first time in his life.

  1. Volitional blindness: refusal to see. (9:9-41)

Some of HIS NEIGHBORS refused to believe he was healed (vs. 9-12).  It’s stunning how some people refuse to acknowledge what’s right in front of them.  We might call “selective seeing.”

Look at verse nine.  The blind beggar’s appearance in the neighborhood caused quite a stir.  Some recognized him but others denied it, saying “NO, HE ONLY LOOKS LIKE HIM.”

Do you ever wish people would stop and listen to themselves?  If these doubters had just listened to what they were saying, they might’ve heard how ridiculous they sounded.  It’s as silly as if they’d said, “No way.  It’s the 1st century!  Nobody believes in miracles anymore!  That’s so B.C.

Once they were ready to accept his identity, they had to know how it happened.  The newly-seeing man told them about Jesus.

The Pharisees refused to see beyond a Sabbath violation (vs. 13-34).  The situation caused such a ruckus the busybody neighbors brought the man and his family before the Pharisees for them to decide the truth of the matter.

Vs. 14-34 are almost comical to read.  It’s almost as if the meeting was run by the Three Stooges.  At one point (v. 28) they even resorted to name-calling.  As is typical with hypocrites, the Pharisees didn’t care much about the man’s healing; they cared about the comparatively trivial matter of Jesus making mud violated the command to not work on the Sabbath.

On the other hand, this was serious business as the Pharisees could have barred the man from the temple or given corporal punishment.  Verse 22 tells us the parents were afraid of them.  The end of the matter was throwing the man out of the meeting.

Jesus condemned the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees (vs. 35-41).  When Jesus heard the outcome of the investigation, He sought the man out.  As they conversed, the formerly blind man confessed faith in Christ; he said simply, “LORD, I BELIEVE” (v. 38).  Jesus received his confession with an explanation of His mission; ‘FOR JUDGMENT I HAVE COME INTO THIS WORLD, SO THAT THE BLIND WILL SEE AND THOSE WHO SEE WILL BECOME BLIND.”

Some Pharisees were on the scene and took Jesus’ comment personally.  They said peevishly, “WHAT? ARE WE BLIND TOO?”  Jesus confirmed their spiritual blindness when He said, “IF YOU WERE BLIND, YOU WOULD NOT BE GUILTY OF SIN; BUT NOW THAT YOU CLAIM YOU CAN SEE, YOUR GUILT REMAINS.”  The Pharisees had spent their lives studying the Scriptures and hundreds of interpretations of it but still didn’t see the truth.  They were guilty of a willful, intentional blindness; they refused to acknowledge the truth about Jesus.

We must open our eyes & hearts to see God at work.

          In this passage we’ve seen how physical blindness – a congenital birth defect resulting in the inability to see anything ever in his life – lead to Jesus’ confrontation of two forms of symbolic blindness.

Jesus’ disciples exhibited a kind of “mental blindness” that was typical in that culture, a willingness to blame the victim, explaining trials as punishment for sin.  The disciples asked an innocent, theological question.  Jesus’ answer opened their eyes to new theological truth; tragic circumstances cannot always be blamed on sin.  However, all circumstances can always be seen as a circumstance in which THE WORK OF GOD might be DISPLAYED.  Every experience of life is an opportunity to glorify God, to make Him known in how we react to what happens to us.

Some of the blind beggar’s neighbors and many of the Pharisees chose not to believe in Jesus’ miracle.  They didn’t want to believe.   They preferred to make a fuss about their legalistic approach to Sabbath-keeping.  I guess it’s just easier to disbelieve.

Faith requires looking at the world in a different way.  It requires putting what the world calls “common sense” on the back burner and its so-called “scientific worldview” one burner further back.  Faith involves adopting God’s point of view first and foremost.  It’s a change of mind where we seek His wisdom from the word and from the Spirit.  Faith requires us to tear down the idols of self and all other material things and build an altar to God in our hearts.

Faith is looking at our self and our world with eyes that once were spiritually blind, but now see the spirit world.  As we grow and mature in our faith, God gives us increasing sensitivity to what actually true, truly important, and worth expending our lives upon.  Open your eyes to see it.

Arguments and Miracles

Please read Acts 19:8-12 in your Bible of choice.  I chose the NIV (1984) to prepare these remarks.

Using a variety of approaches – from arguments to miracles – we must share the Gospel of salvation.

Even though a majority of Americans claim to believe God exists and claim to be “spiritual,” the numbers of those who believe in supernatural things like heaven, hell, and miracles have been in decline.  This is an illogical position to take, but accurately reflects the belief that religion is self-made.  It is illogical to believe in God and yet maintain the idea that His actions in this world are always along ordinary, natural lines.

Ask somebody if they believe in miracles and you will get an answer along these lines.

– An intellectual response: “No, I only believe in things I can perceive with my five senses.  As miracles claim to violate the laws of nature, I don’t believe in them.  I believe in science.”

– An emotional response: “I totally believe in miracles and they happen every day.  Just being alive is a miracle!”

Neither of those persons believes in miracles. I want to encourage a biblical response instead: “The Bible says that God did things outside the so-called ‘laws’ of nature.  These things happened to give glory to God and to give people more reason to believe.”

We will continue our study of the ancient church in the city of Ephesus by looking at how God used ordinary teaching and extraordinary miracles to get the Gospel of Jesus to Asia Minor.  What we can learn from this passage is that we must rely on God to use us and a variety of means to get the Word out to Sioux Falls.  The Word of God will change lives and renew our fellowship!  God has not limited this experience to ancient Ephesus: it can be true in our place and time as well.

  1. Paul argued with the obstinate.

Paul’s typical strategy was to begin in the local synagogue (8+9).  Paul was the “Apostle to the Gentiles,” but he still chose to reach out to the Jewish community in each city where he founded churches (see Romans 1:16; 2:9-10).  We’re told several things about Paul’s ministry in the synagogue.

– He spoke BOLDLY, “freely” or “openly.”  Paul was there to give them the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

– He argued PERSUASIVELY.  Paul was not a people-pleaser: he worked toward convincing the listener to repent.

– Paul’s subject matter was THE KINGDOM OF GOD, announcing – as Jesus did – that the KOG was “at hand” (see Matthew 4:17).

– This lasted THREE MONTHS.  Lasting that long indicates some level of acceptance at the beginning, but not much patience.

The synagogue time came to an end when the “religious people” in the synagogue opposed Paul.  This was not a mild kind of opposition.  The text explains; SOME BECAME OBSTINATE.  That word literally meant “hardened.”  The fault for their refusal to believe did not lie with God or with Paul; it was all on them.

So THEY REFUSED TO BELIEVE.  They would not accept the reality that the Kingdom of God had come; that Jesus was the Messiah.  And worse, they PUBLICLY MALIGNED THE WAY.  In Acts, those who opposed the Church invented slanderous lies and used them in an attempt to stir up public opinion against the disciples of Jesus.  This name for the Church – THE WAY – sounds unfamiliar to most of us.  It was a name once used to refer to the followers of Jesus, possibly based on John 14:6, where Jesus proclaimed Himself to be “THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.”

Meeting opposition, Paul changed venues and continued bringing the word (9-10).  Instead of the synagogue, he used the LECTURE HALL of TYRANNUS.  The Greek word for LECTURE HALL meant “school,” a refuge of sorts for philosophers to address one another and crowds of interested listeners.  We’ve no other biblical info on TYRANNUS, but evidence has been found proving he lived in Ephesus at that time.

Verse ten mentions both Jews and Greeks heard the word, so we can assume the LECTURE HALL proved to be a more public forum than the SYNAGOGUE had been.  What the enemies of the Church intended to be a roadblock instead paved the way for greater exposure.

Luke is careful to assure the reader that Paul TOOK THE DISCIPLES WITH HIM.  It is reasonable to assume this group included both Jewish and Gentile converts; the people who had accepted Paul’s teaching as true.

He held DAILY DISCUSSIONS.  One of the things that marked first century churches was their DAILY meetings.  They also enjoyed unrivaled success in bringing people to Jesus.  A coincidence?

The Greek word for DISCUSSIONS is the basis for our word “dialogue.”  However, this Gk word included both lecture and conversation-based teaching methods.  The means of teaching isn’t nearly as important as the object of teaching: God Himself.

Paul used the LECTURE HALL for TWO YEARS (10).  One indication of “success” at that location was both Jews & Greeks HEARD THE WORD.  Nowhere is the number of converts mentioned.  This implies “Success” can be measured in faithfulness, leaving fruitfulness up to God (as in 1 Corinthians 3:5-8).

Another indication of success in verse ten is that the ministry at Ephesus facilitated the spread of the WORD OF THE LORD all over Asia Minor, reaching both Jews and Greeks.  Having a two and a half-year stay and reaching an entire region was a great success!

  1. God used Paul to do miraculous healings.

The line of agency could not be clearer than Luke drew it in verse eleven: GOD DID EXTRAORDINARY MIRACLES THROUGH PAUL.  When these miracles were accomplished, they might’ve been misunderstood as having been powered by Paul or by special magical items.  These miracles consisted of healing from illness and deliverance from demons.  The people of Ephesus were superstitious and might have misunderstood Paul as being a magician.  Luke made it clear that God healed and delivered those people: Paul was merely the man through which the miracles happened.

To counter this, ordinary items were endowed with healing power.  The only thing different was that had come into contact with Paul.  They were not specially-made magic items; there was nothing special about the item itself.  The point here is that the real power came from God.

The word for HANDKERCHIEF is borrowed from Latin and refers to a cloth used to wipe perspiration from a laborer’s brow.  The word for APRONS is also Latin and refers to protective cloths worn by workers and also scraps of cloth used as rags.  The power was not resident in the cloth, nor did it come from Paul; all of it was means God used to display His power.

There are parallels elsewhere in the writings of Luke; in Luke 6:18-19, Jesus healed people without touching them at all.  In Acts 5:12, 15-16, people were healed when Peter’s shadow fell on them.  In the Bible, supernatural healings happened in just about every way you can imagine, with very few of the accounts agreeing in the details.  The emphasis is never on how the healing occurred, but on who did the healing; God was the One who did the healing.

One of God’s purposes in the Spiritual Gift of Miracles is to validate the ministry of someone claiming to speak in His name.  While Luke doesn’t use this account to prove that point, there’s no doubt that reports of miraculous healings created additional interest in a magic-obsessed community and gave Paul’s message added authenticity.

The result expressed in verses ten and twenty was that the WORD OF THE LORD – the history and teachings of Jesus – became more widely known, more widely accepted, and grew in the power of influence.

Using a variety of approaches – from arguments to miracles – we must share the Gospel of salvation.

One reason people might be reluctant to believe in miracles is they don’t want to be deceived.  Since the word was invented, claims of miracles and particularly miraculous healings have been used to trick people.  Take this story from Jokes4us.com, for example:

A Rabbi and a Priest get into a car accident and it’s a bad one. Both cars are totally demolished, but, amazingly, neither of the clerics is hurt. After they crawl out of their cars, the rabbi sees the priest’s collar and says, “So you’re a priest. I’m a rabbi. Just look at our cars. There’s nothing left, but we are unhurt. This must be a sign from God. God must have meant that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace the rest of our days.”

The Priest replies, “I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God.”

The Rabbi continues, “And look at this. Here’s another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of wine didn’t break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune.”

Then he hands the bottle to the priest. The priest agrees, takes a few big swigs, and hands the bottle back to the rabbi. The rabbi takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap on, and hands it back to the priest.

The Priest asks, “Aren’t you having any?”

“No… I’ll wait for the police.”

http://www.jokes4us.com/religiousjokes/carcrashmiraclejoke.html

Paul made it his aim to declare the truth as persuasively as possible, but without manipulating either the Gospel or the people hearing it.  He did not want anyone’s response to the truth to be based on human salesmanship or anything less powerful than the Holy Spirit.

That should be our desire as well.  We need to adopt Paul’s motto in 1CT 9:22 = I HAVE BECOME ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN SO THAT BY ALL POSSIBLE MEANS I MIGHT SAVE SOME.  May we have that heartfelt desire to tell others about Jesus and may we act upon it with the same integrity.

RESOURCES:

O         Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary on Acts, J.

Bradley Chance.

O         Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New

            Testament: Acts, Eckhard J. Schnabel