They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.
Acts 28:23-24 (NIV)
Read: Acts 28:17-31
Consider: Today’s reading reveals that Paul would not give up trying to persuade his fellow Jews to believe in Jesus. Even when he was under arrest in Rome, he asked to meet with the local Jewish leaders so that he could explain to them about Jesus and possibly correct any misinformation they might have heard about him. When he met with them it became clear that the local Jews had not heard anything bad about Paul (Acts 28:21). They informed Paul: But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect (28:22). The grapevine had obviously been active and Paul was not prepared to waste this opportunity to speak boldly to the Jews about what he calls: ‘… the hope of Israel’ (28:20); this ‘hope’ being the promised Messiah.
We read that Paul arranged to meet with the Jews and that he spent many hours witnessing to them and explaining from the Law and the Prophets that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah (28:23). Despite speaking clearly and boldly about Jesus, we read: Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe (28:24).
Should we be surprised at this? Not really! This is exactly what Jesus himself saw when he spoke to crowds or individuals. It was also the experience of the disciples and the seventy-two he sent out to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. It can be seen throughout the Acts of the Apostles as the good news spread far and wide. If we think about the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8), this also shows us that the ground (people’s hearts), that the good seed (the gospel message) falls on, does not always receive a favourable response.
In the light of this we should not be surprised that when we speak to people about our faith, that it produces responses along a continuum from acceptance (belief) to rejection? Our role is not to judge the quality of the ‘ground’ the message falls on, but to distribute the ‘good seed’ freely and widely. Like Paul, we cannot know the outcome before we share the good news.
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop (Luke 8:15).
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Pray: Father, we praise you that when the good news of the gospel is shared, some will be convinced and commit their lives to Christ. We ask that you would uphold and protect them so that they may produce a harvest. Amen
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