The Side Show
by Josh Keller
'Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.’ He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
This weekend our kids wound down a long sugar fueled Memorial Day at a friend’s house by watching some television. When a commercial played, my kids, who rarely watch any television with commercials, came unglued. “What happened to the show? Bring it back?!” They were frustrated because Netflix and PBS are never interrupted by commercials. The commercial was a sideshow interrupting things, distracting them, and confusing them. They just wanted to get back to main story.
In many ways, that is how the Jews in Rome felt as Paul expounded the gospel to them. The Jesus deal felt like a sideshow, a confusing little sect, an interruption in the main story of God’s dealing with His people. Let’s go back to the regularly scheduled broadcast of a people rescued from slavery in Egypt, saved by the blood of a lamb, baptized in the water of the Red Sea, watching that snake Pharaoh impotent and destroyed in those same waters, getting to feast with God at a mountain, receiving His word at the same mountain, getting miraculous provision on the journey to and finally reaching a promised land. You know, that story! Let’s get back to that one. Forget this commercial interruption.
But of course, this Jesus sideshow is the main show. The story isn’t being interrupted. In fact the plot hasn’t really changed. The fascinating thing about these last two chapters of Acts is how clearly they remind of the Exodus story. Paul begins in captivity. He is then freed from that captivity to journey to God’s promised destination. He leaves after the Day of Atonement to cross a great sea. On the journey, things go bad, but Paul gets a word from God. Paul breaks bread at dawn with them. Everyone is saved through the water and a serpent is found to be impotent and destroyed. And finally they arrive in Rome, the promised city.
Do you see? This is no sideshow. God is writing the same show. It is the story of God redeeming His people from captivity to sin and death. Freeing them to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Bringing them to a promised land to dwell in peace and joy forever. If you are in Christ, that is your story. It is the story. So go tell the story. Be bold. You are not hindered. You will pass through the waves. You have been freed. The serpent is impotent. You will come to the land that is promised. Jesus is bringing you through. There are those who will listen. There are some desperate to hear this story. Tell it without fear.