I remember his debut game as the goalkeeper of the high school soccer team--a team with a winning record and a lot on the line, and he was just 15! Dylan was a sophomore when he won the position, and finally--after all of his personal training--boxing in early mornings to increase his hand-eye speed coordination, practice diving first right and then left onto the ground, jumping high and scooping low -- all to stop a black and white ball.
And today, we are given a front row seat to Paul's debut--his first recorded sermon. This is exciting! What a brilliant oratorical narrative it is for us to devour--as Paul is masterful in relating to the Jews in the way they could receive it. While his sermon has similarities to the speeches of Stephen and Peter with historical retrospective, Paul's weaving in of prophecy and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ shows that Christianity is a defensible faith. "Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to see what you would have us learn from Paul's teaching. Thank you, Lord, for the power of Scripture in our lives. Amen"
Attacking this a little differently today--with the scripture passage in regular font, and my attached explanation in italics. Acts 13.13-25~
Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. This was John Mark who departed from them; Scripture does not tell us why, but it really bothered Paul as we will later see. John Mark is the writer of the Gospel of Mark. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. Paul purposed to go to the synagogue because the Jews would know what the prophets had said about the Messiah and he could appeal to their knowledge when talking to them about Christianity, telling them why they should accept Jesus as Messiah. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.
This would be common in current-day Jewish services: the reciting of the beautiful "Shema" Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6.49) Prayers would be offered, followed by a reading from the books of Moses (GenesisDeuteronomy). Then, there would be a reading from the Prophets, meant to illustrate the Law, and often a sermon. It was customary to invite visiting teachers to speak.
So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:
"Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. Paul affirms them by telling them that they are indeed God's chosen people, and recalls how God had multiplied their number while they were in Egypt. Paul makes no mistake that it was God who led them out with Moses as spokesman. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. They were constant complainers. And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance, led by Joshua. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will. Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.
From David to Jesus in one breath, thereby showing that Jesus, their Messiah, came through the line of David.
Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. So Paul points out that John the Baptist had also been a prophet to the Jews, in an effort to prepare them for Jesus. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ̃What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.'. . ."
Paul practices one of the most fundamental elements of effective speaking--knowing your audience and how to appeal to them. Paul did this by showing them from their own beliefs and writings that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, which they knew well.
He will continue doing so in the rest of his sermon in Acts 13 that we will consider tomorrow. . . but let us notice the quote Paul uses to describe how God felt about David- -'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'
Every time I read how God spoke of David, it impacts me; I want so badly to be a woman after God's own heart! Picture this with me--getting to Heaven, and God says to someone, "This is Judy; she is a woman after my own heart" or "This is Andy; he is a man after my own heart." Come on, you have to admit, that would rank right behind, "Well done, good and faithful servant, Mel."
Just take a moment and ponder that thought. Ah, one day we will see Him face to face, we shall behold Him in all his glory and he certainly will have something to say to us. . . what will He say to you? Drumroll please . . .
Until we’re home~