Summary: This continues in my expository series through the book of Acts.
What is it about the bad that seems much more tantalizing to us than the good? Mark Twain said that a lie could travel halfway around the world while the truth was still putting on its shoes. And the old maxim is that while good news travels, bad news travels fast. The mainstream media has been much maligned over the last several years because it sure seems as though it delights in telling us all the bad things going on in Iraq, with little seeming interest in reporting the good. What is it about the bad that seems much more tantalizing to us than the good? I think it’s a reflection of our fallen nature as human beings, created in the image of God, but fallen into sin, marred to our core by our sinfulness. And we’d rather hear a juicy bit of gossip than something good and wholesome; we’d rather find out the bad about someone—and spread it—than to share something good. We’re prideful and sinful and all of those things—and thus, bad news travels fast! But good news travels, and that’s exactly what’s happening in today’s narrative, the gospel—which means “good news”—traveling to two different cities and finding different receptions in each!
Paul and Silas are again traveling in territory that is unfamiliar to us; hopefully, the PowerPoint slide will give us a little grasp on where they are as they make their way through what we know as eastern Europe. One town the Bible mentions is Amphipolis; here’s a statue that was standing in Amphipolis when Paul came through; chances are his eyes gazed on it as do ours now. But we don’t have record that they missionaries did any evangelizing in either Amphipolis or Appolonia; rather, they passed on through to get to Thessalonica. Thessalonica was the capital of the province of Macedonia, the largest and most prosperous city in all the region. It lay almost exactly 100 miles southwest of Philippi. By the time Paul got there, it was a city of perhaps 200,000 people, a diverse cultural center much like Atlanta, attracting people from varying nationalities. Since it was a center of commerce and an influential city, Paul and Silas must have considered it to be strategic to planting the gospel of Christ on the entire Balkan peninsula.
As was their custom, they went to the Jewish synagogue, and the Bible says that for three days there, they told the story of the Good News Gospel of Christ. Note
An Upside-Down World marginalizes Jesus, but
I. The Gospel Centers on Jesus Christ
They told the story of Jesus, and they further used what we call the Old Testament to attempt to persuade their Jewish listeners of this truth: the Messiah, for Whom you’ve been looking, is Jesus. These predictions, these prophecies, made hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ, were fulfilled perfectly in Him alone.
We read earlier the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the Messiah.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;