It is an age old military strategy that still works, even when you are faced with a bristling Jewish Sanhedrin who are revving up for your stoning.
Paul, looking across the sea of faces, spotted the partisan divide between the Sadducees and the Pharisees and throw the theological spanner into the fray:
“Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial!”
The strategy worked perfectly. The Sanhedrin was thrown into disarray, with the Pharisees saying that they could find nothing wrong with the guy who used to be their Goldilocks boy and the Sadducees who were indignant at his lack of intelligent. An educated Jew with Roman citizenship believing in the resurrection! What nonsense!
You have to wonder, though, about Paul’s use of the strategy. He seemed to have a knack of causing strife wherever he went. Compare Paul’s strategy with Jesus—Jesus simply stood there silently before the Sanhedrin, like a lamb waiting to be slaughtered. Paul, on the other hand, seemed to be like polemical debater, always looking for a fight. Why was he always so cantankerous by nature?
Perhaps it is worthwhile to dig in a bit deeper. Jesus did respond to one of the questions that the high priest put to Him at the Sanhedrin. When the high priest asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus responded, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” He was convicted immediately of blasphemy. The critical issue in Jesus’ trial was this—who was this Man? Jesus was convicted on His identity alone.
On the other hand, when Paul stated, “It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial,” he was effectively pointing out to the Sanhedrin that his trial was not about him personally, it was about the promises that God had made to Israel and how He had confirmed those promises in the life, death and resurrection of His Messiah Jesus. The trial was not, really, about Paul at all. The formal complaint that the Sanhedrin had was still actually with God and what He had accomplished in the life of Jesus. It had nothing to do with Paul!
That is really important when you are facing ridicule and castigation as you are sharing your faith. If you are just allowing God’s love to shine through you and sharing His message of salvation, the ridicule has nothing to do with you. The issue that people have is how God is working through Jesus to save this world.
As Jesus Himself said, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” So go out and share the good news about Jesus. If you face rejection, remember it is not really about you!
The book of Acts is drenched with the Holy Spirit. Reading it is like taking time to play out in the tropical rain! Read the full stories for today in: