Summary: Facing obstacles to sharing the gospel is common, but God will find listeners who learn to live for Jesus. When one door closes he opens another.
Here in Acts 28:16-28 Paul explains himself, the gospel and their rejection of it.
Why I’m wearing these chains.
Why Jesus is the Christ.
Why do your hearts reject him, and where will God go from here.
Jenny and I were walking along in the neighborhood a few weeks ago when we came across something that made me mad. Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever see something that really makes you mad? Well this one did. Somebody had written some terrible things about the Signal Mountain police with spray paint right on the pavement in the middle of the road. It was disgusting. Anyway, I had my cell phone with me and I called the police to report it. I told the officer that I could get a can of black spray paint and cover over it. Then he started laughing. I didn’t understand so I asked what he was laughing about, and he said, “You might have some explaining to do if one of our officers drove up and saw you there with a can of spray paint in your hand.” He’s right! How ironic would that be! That would be an amusing picture for the post. He said, “Thanks for reporting it, we’ll get someone out there to take care of it.”
Back in Acts 19 when Paul was working with the Ephesians, he said he was headed for Rome. He probably never dreamed at the time that he would go there as a prisoner. When he arrives in Rome it appears that he feels he has some explaining to do about why he’s wearing chains. Notice his explanation of his circumstances in Acts 28 verses 16-20.
16 And when we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
17 And it happened that after three days he called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they had come together, he began saying to them, "Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people, or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
18 "And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death.
19 "But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar; not that I had any accusation against my nation.
20 "For this reason therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel."
Some of us often feel like we need to explain ourselves for various reasons. But notice how Paul also uses this as an opportunity to introduce the gospel! I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel! Notice that it was Paul that called this meeting in verse 17. He wants to be very clear about why he is there and why he is in this condition. But more than that, he wants to share the gospel with these Jewish leaders. Where will they stand? What will they do with Jesus? Paul wants first of all to remove any obstacles that may hinder them from receiving the gospel. What a noble concern!
What about us? Are we aware of things in our lives that may hinder others from receiving the gospel? How much of a concern is that to you personally?
I remember once hearing a speaker at a youth rally say, “If you are not going to try to act like a Christian, please don’t tell anyone that you are one.” It’s Christians like that who make it hard for those of us who want to share our faith with others! If you wear the name, live the name. Peter once said, “(1 Peter 2:12) Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Jesus said, “Matt 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Jesus expects us to influence the world around us for God’s glory. We need to be concerned about it. If my life puts me in a position that appears to compromise that, I want to explain it. Paul did. More than that, I should use that as an opportunity to introduce the gospel! Those chains got attention. Paul starts with an explanation, that leads to an introduction to sharing Jesus. Look at what happens next and how this is exactly where this leads, 21-24.