“The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!” Acts 21.30-36
They warned Paul that this was going to happen. Even in Caesarea, Agabas prophesied that Paul would be put in chains. This would not be the last time he would be bound. They took him from the Temple courts, seizing him, dragging him, beating him. Thankfully, Roman soldiers heard of this and came to break up the riot. They arrested Paul as the crowds shouted too many accusations for the Romans to understand, and took him to the barracks. Upon reaching the steps, “the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers,” and they shouted “Get rid of him!”
Boy, did that escalate quickly! Paul went from peacefully telling others about Jesus to an angry mob motivated to take his life. How could we not believe Satan is at work? When the gospel is preached, the truth is told in power. The spiritual realm is stirred up — angels and demons speaking truth and lies into people. And people acting on their emotions — being filled with anger and rage.
The soldiers rescued Paul, forcing the crowd to stop the beating and having to carry him through the riotous crowd. They brought him to the steps of the barracks which what happens next is pretty awesome (read next time to find out Paul’s compassionate response to the crowds.)
Just as Paul was bound by the Romans for preaching the gospel, so he was bound to Christ with joy so that he might proclaim God’s truth. The binding is in truth a blessing. Even though evil seeps in because evil can not stand to hear the truth of God’s message of love, grace and redemption, we are bound to proclaim it. Bound to offer the free gift of God’s salvation to the world.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2.10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” These words he spoke to the church in Ephesus are realized here in Jerusalem. That he, being God’s handiwork (or workmanship), is being prepared to do good works. The good works of proclaiming God’s message is happening at this very moment for Paul. He was prepared and now the preparation is paying off — for Paul is a bold witness for the gospel.
We too are called to follow in Paul’s footsteps. To offer truth in love, grace and hope for a world in deep unrest. It’s a world where sin rules the day and evil has it’s way with people. But God is the reigning king. He is the conquering king making room for his message to be brought to all people.
As I visit London, England during the coronation of King Charles, I am reminded of the vanity of earthly kings and the hope of our risen King Jesus. Jesus is the one who lives and reigns forever. Human praise and worship of earthly monarchs is futile and will quickly fade, but the Word of our Lord endures forever.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving us, for saving us, for allowing us to walk in grace. Bind us to you, help us see your truth and love. Thank you for the example of Paul and for calling us to proclaim your word. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen