Walking With Christ On the Path of Suffering

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament book of Acts—the account of the spiritual body of Christ—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the twenty-fifth chapter of this New Testament book. “Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, and desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought. And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, laid may and grievous complains against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesarea, have I offended any thing at all. But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, hast thou appealed unto Caesar? Unto Caesar shalt thou go” (Acts 25:1-12).

 

            “And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. And when they had been there many days, Festus declare Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priest and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgement seat, and commanded the man to brought forth. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusations of such things as I supposed: but had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I doubted of such. Manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said hi, thou shalt hear him” (Acts 25:13-22).

 

            “And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth. And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all the men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you,a nd specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after the examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him” (Acts 25:21-27).

 

            When you come to the twenty fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul still being present in Caesarea. Having been brought forth from the city of Jerusalem after it was discovered that there were certain Jews who conspired together to put him to death the apostle Paul was brought forth out of the city of Jerusalem and brought unto Caesarea. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider this as it would be while the apostle Paul was present in Caesarea he would indeed give a second testimony concerning the hope upon which his faith was built. There in Caesarea the apostle Paul would have the chance to give witness and testimony before kings, governors and rulers alike concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Immediately after the apostle Paul was rescued from the angry mob which was present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem he would ask for the chance to speak unto the people. The ability to speak unto the people was indeed granted unto the apostle Paul and he would take the opportunity to speak unto them in the Hebrew tongue. This is something which warrants strong consideration for although the apostle Paul would give testimony in the city of Jerusalem for the word and name of the Lord Jesus the Jews would despise, reject and oppose the words which he would speak unto them; The Jews would hear and listen to the words which were presented unto them by the apostle Paul and would completely and utterly despise them as they had made a habit of doing in the various cities whereunto the apostle Paul would journey. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this New Testament book beginning with the thirteenth chapter you will find that from the time the apostle Paul first set out on that initial missionary journey the Jews would not only oppose themselves but they would also blaspheme the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            As you consider the account(s) of the life of the apostle Paul you can and will encounter the tremendous truth that as he preached the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the various cities in Macedonia as well as in Asia there would be many Jews who were of an unbelieving heart. These Jews would completely and utterly reject and despise the words which the apostle Paul would speak unto them—words which were of life, words which were of hope, words which were of faith, words which were of joy. This is something that warrants a strong consideration on our part for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the rejection of the Jews toward the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would journey from Antioch and would venture into such cities such as Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Athens, Berea, Ephesus, and various others and in many of those cities the apostle Paul would experience tremendous resistance from the Jews toward the word and gospel of the word and name of the Lord Jesus. In fact even when you consider the events which surrounding the final chapters of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that they were indeed triggered by the Jews which were of Asia being present in Jerusalem at the same time the apostle Paul was and inciting the people against him. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the rejection of the Jews toward the words which the apostle Paul spoke as the apostle Paul would indeed preach unto them the words of life and the hope of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is there were countless times when the apostle Paul would indeed preach the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in various cities in Asia and Europe and in most cases it was the unbelieving and hard-hearted Jews who would despise and reject the word which he preached.

 

            It is at this point I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. It would be here in this particular epistle where the apostle Paul would not only hold the Jews accountable for that which was given and bestowed unto them but the apostle Paul would also indict them for their being hard-hearted, for their being stiff-necked and for their being unbelieving. It is in the second chapter where the apostle Paul would conclude the Jews under sin just as the apostle Paul had concluded the Gentiles themselves were under sin. What’s more is it hat it is in the ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters the apostle Paul writes and speaks about the Jews and how they resisted, opposed, despised and rejected the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the fact that the Jews in the various cities whereunto the apostle Paul journeyed were doing the very same thing which those who were in Judaea and Jerusalem had done during the days which Jesus walked among us as the Word made flesh. In fact if you read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find countless times when the Jews themselves despised, rejected and opposed the words which Jesus of Nazareth had spoken and continually seek to kill and put Him to death. You cannot read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding this resistance and rejection of the Jews as pretty much from the fifth chapter onward the Jews together with their religious and political leaders sought to destroy and put Him to death. Having said and written this I find it absolutely necessary to first call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah concerning words which the ancient prophet Isaiah saw concerning the Messiah:

 

            “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chaste is sent of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth> He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12).

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture and I can’t help but see a powerful picture of the rejection of the person of the Lord Jesus—rejection would indeed begin while He walked among us as the Word made flesh. It’s important to note that the resistance and opposition of the Jews which we read in the New Testament book of Acts didn’t begin with them as they would hear the word and gospel preached concerning the person and name of the Lord Jesus. It would be very easy to think that the rejection and despising of the Jews which was present in the New Testament book of Acts is somehow unique in and of itself, however, the truth of the matter is that the jews resisted, despised and rejected the person of the Lord Jesus Christ during the days in which He walked among us. It is in the fifty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the resistance and rejection of the Jews toward the Messiah as you will read such phrases as “and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” and “he is despised and rejected of men.” Moreover it is in this prophetic book we also read the prophet Isaiah declare of Jesus that he was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him.” In addition to this the prophet Isaiah also declared that he was despised and we esteemed him not. Oh there is absolutely no denying or mistaking the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it is what we find here that presents us with the tremendous truth concerning the rejection of the Messiah which was not only prophesied centuries and generations in advance but would not begin during the days of the apostles but would indeed begin while and when Jesus Himself walked among us as the Word made flesh.

 

            Before I delve into the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the second and third chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. What’s more is I would also call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the same New Testament book as within this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Peter together with the other apostles standing before the Jews and holding and making them responsible for the suffering and the death of the Lord Jesus. It would be there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the apostle Peter together with the other apostles would indeed speak and proclaim unto the Jews concerning their part in the death and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus—something which their religious and political leaders could not handle. It is in the fifth chapter of this New Testament book we find those same leaders speaking unto the apostle Peter and the other apostles concerning their intention of bringing the blood of this Jesus of Nazareth upon their heads and holding them responsible. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to this as it calls and draws our attention—not only to the rejection and despising of the Jews toward Jesus of Nazareth but also their part in the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus. It was the Jews together with their religious and political leaders who delivered Jesus into the hands of sinners who would scourge and ultimately put Jesus to death. Although it was indeed Pilate who gave the order to have Jesus crucified it must be understood that the greater sin and iniquity fell squarely and solely upon the shoulders of the Jews and their religious leaders who did indeed deliver Him into the hands of Pontius Pilate. What’s more is that it would be the Jews together with their religious and political leaders who would not only ask for a murderer in place of Jesus but would demand the crucifixion of Jesus. Oh it is with this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the second, third, fourth and even fifth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be Holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcure is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witness. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-36).

 

            “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send the Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall lay unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:12-26).

 

            “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).

 

            “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:29-32).

 

            It is quite clear from the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that the apostle Peter together with the other apostles concluded the Jews as being guilty and held responsible for crucifying and killing the King of glory. You cannot read these words and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely incredible truth surrounding the truth which the apostles proclaimed unto the Jews together with their religious and political leaders for from the day of Pentecost all the way up to the words which we read in the fifth chapter of this New Testament book we find the apostles holding the Jews accountable and responsible for the suffering in the flesh of the Lord Jesus and His ultimate crucifixion upon the cross. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely tremendous reality of the resistance, the rejection and the despising of the Jews as they would raise themselves against the person of the Lord Jesus. What we find in the final chapters of the New Testament book of Acts is something we must needs recognize and understand as it calls our attention to the continued resistance and rejection of the Jews toward this Jesus of Nazareth. If when appearing unto Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus Jesus declared that He was “Jesus whom thou persecutest” then it could indeed be held that it was indeed Jesus whom the Jews were persecuting when they raised themselves up against the apostle Paul. The Jews were indeed rejecting and despising the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet at the very heart and core of that is their rejection of the person of the Lord Jesus and their persecuting Him. The same principle that was spoken of unto Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus is the same principle that could indeed be held true during the days of the apostle Paul when he would stand before the Jews and their religious and political leaders.

 

            I am absolutely convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in the final chapters of the New Testament book of Acts it is absolutely necessary and imperative to consider the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome. You cannot read the words which the apostle Peter together with the apostles preached and spoke unto the Jews together with their religious and political leaders for they would preach that they were responsible for killing and crucifying the King of glory through their own unbelief, envy, hard-hearted ness and stiff-necked ways. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the same spirit that animated the Jews which were present in Judaea and Jerusalem during the days in which the Lord Jesus walked among us as the Word made flesh was the same spirit which would animate the Jews which were present in the various cities unto which the apostle Paul would journey and preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that what we find here in these final chapters of the New Testament book of Acts is persecution returning to Jerusalem—albeit persecution of the apostle Paul and not persecution of the early church. We know that after the death of Stephen there would arise a great persecution against the church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and as a direct result of it the church would be scattered throughout Judaea, throughout Samaria and I would even dare say throughout Galilee. What we find here in this passage of Scripture is the revolt and resistance of the Jews toward and against the apostle Paul as they would deem and brand him a troubler and disturber of the peace by preaching strange doctrines and a strange name. Oh I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder how many of the Jews which we read about here in these chapters were present in Jerusalem during the days in which Jesus walked among us as the flesh. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder how many Jews which we read about here in this passage of Scripture were indeed some of the same Jews who were present in Jerusalem at the time of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus.

 

            I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention now to the words which are found in the ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. It is here in these passages we are called and drawn to the truth surrounding the rejection of the Jews toward the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that within these passages of Scripture we find this resistance and rejection beginning during the days in which the Lord Jesus walked among us as the Word which was made flesh. It’s incredibly interesting to think about and consider the words which are found in these chapters as they bring you face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the rejection of the Jews toward the person of Jesus of Nazareth—a reality that would be manifested later on during the days of the apostles when the Jews would continue to resist and reject the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding this opposition of the Jews which was prophesied and spoken of centuries and generations earlier by the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah concerning the coming of the Messiah and how He would be despised and rejected of men. Oh it is having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:

 

            “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the words of promise. At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to the election might stand, not of works, but of him that Allegheny) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:1-13).

 

            “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth ye yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; at here shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Saboath had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it. Not by faith, but as it were by the works of the Law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 9:14-33).

            “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s unrighteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Chris is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above). Or, who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in they heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jews and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they believe in whom of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses, saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:1-21).

 

            “I say then, hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he force knew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and dogged down thine altars: and I am left alone,a nd they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the kneed to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back awlays” (Romans 11:1-10).

 

            “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather though their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; ho much more their fullness? For I speak to your Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: IF by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruits be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partake at of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou hearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but ward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otero write thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:11-24).

 

            “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Simon the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have not obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:25-32).

 

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the absolutely incredible truth surrounding the resistance, the rejection and the opposition of the Jews. We cannot read the words which are found in these chapters and not find the apostle being grieved over the Jews which were his people—and not only grieved over the Jews but also grieved because of their hardened hearts and unbelief. There is something truly astonishing about the words which are found in these three chapters for the apostle Paul writes how the unbelief of the Jews would indeed make room for the Gentiles to be grafted into the vine. Just as Ephraim and Judah would be grafted together as one once more during the days of their return from exile and captivity so also would the Jews and Gentiles be grafted in together as one branch. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, however, for in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John—perhaps more than any other gospel—we find the resistance and rejection of the Jews toward and against the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words which we find in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John calls and draws our attention to the absolutely tremendous truth surrounding that which we find in the New Testament book of Acts for although the Jews would not resist the actual person of the Messiah they would indeed resist and reject the word and gospel which would be preached in His name. The Jews which were present during the days of the apostles would indeed resist and reject the name and person of the Lord Jesus as they would despise and reject His name which would be preached unto them by the apostles. In fact if you read the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters you will find the religious and political leaders in Jerusalem speaking unto the apostles and how they commanded them not to speak anymore in the name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth nor preach the gospel of the resurrection.

 

            I am sitting here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture in the New Testament book of Acts and the apostle Paul would indeed journey unto Jerusalem knowing he was bound in the spirit. The apostle Paul did not know what would befall or come upon him in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—save that bonds and afflictions abode and awaited him. Moreover the apostle Paul did not count or consider this of any consequence or importance to him for he was willing to lay down his life for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul was ready and willing to allow himself to be poured out as a drink offering before and unto the living and eternal God. The apostle Paul was willing to go unto Jerusalem without knowing exactly what would befall him save that he was ready and willing to lay down his life for the sake of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that when you read the apostle Paul coming unto Tyre in Syria you find certain disciples there who said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem. After the apostle Paul and his companions accomplished the days which were present there they departed and went on their way and came unto Caesarea where they abode in the house of Philip the evangelist. It would be there during those days that a certain prophet named Agabus would come and take Paul’s girdle and ind his own hands and feet. After binding his own hands and feet he would then proceed to declare, saying, “Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” IN the twentieth chapter the apostle Paul spoke of bonds and afflictions which abode and awaited him in Jerusalem, however, it would be here in Caesarea where additional and further details were given unto the apostle Paul as it would be prophesied that he would not only be bound by the Jews but would also be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles.

 

            As I read these words I can’t help but think about the fact that the very same thing which happened unto the person of Jesus of Nazareth would be the very same thing that would happen unto the apostle Paul. Just as Jesus Himself would journey unto the city of Jerusalem and would ultimately be bound by the jews before being delivered into the hands of the Gentiles so also would the apostle Paul journey unto the city of Jerusalem and would there be bound by the Jews and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s how the apostle Paul would indeed walk in the same path and footsteps of his Lord and Master. Just as Jesus would journey unto the city of Jerusalem and be bound by the Jews before delivered into the hands of the Gentiles and sinners so also would the apostle Paul be bound by the Jews in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul would enter into the city of Jerusalem and would there in the midst of the city be seized upon by the Jews as they would raise themselves up against him. It would be in the midst of the city of Jerusalem where the apostle Paul would find himself being overtaken by the Jews who would have destroyed and put him to death were it not for the intervention of the chief captain—and ultimately intervention by the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul would indeed be bound by the Jews and the Jews would indeed deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. What’s more is that as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle being offered the chance to return to Jerusalem and stand trial before his countrymen there in the midst of the city. The apostle Paul would proceed to speak of his being completely innocent of any guilt or wrongdoing and instead of agreeing to return unto the city of Jerusalem he would appeal unto Caesar. It would be when and as the apostle Paul stood before Festus there in the midst of the Caesarea that the apostle apostle Paul would appeal to Caesar and it would be unto Caesar the apostle Paul would indeed go.

 

            With this in mind I invite you to consider if you will how it would begin in the midst of the city of Jerusalem for in the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul coming unto Jerusalem and being received of the brethren. Even though the apostle Paul was received of the brethren with joy and gladness they would speak unto them offering advice unto him concerning what he ought to do being present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The brethren which were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem were mindful of the opposition, the resistance and rejection of the Jews toward and against the apostle Paul in the midst of Asia and Europe and they would offer him a suggesting to try and prevent the Jews from coming upon him there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. What we find in the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament book beginning with the seventeenth verse is a powerful description of the brethren which were present in Jerusalem seeking to advise the apostle Paul concerning his time in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It would be the brethren which were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem who would indeed offer the apostle Paul a wonderful and powerful suggestion as to how he might be able to move throughout the city of Jerusalem without drawing attention to himself and without somehow angering and offending the Jews.  I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand that which took place here for just as surely as the apostle Paul walked in the footsteps and path of his Lord Jesus so also would he experience very similar treatment and even experience something which Jesus experienced in the presence of Pontius Pilate—even in the presence of Herod himself.

 

            Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the seventeenth verse of the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? The multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, which wolf they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkedst orderly, and keenest the law. As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication” (Acts 21:17-25).

 

            “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, Help: this is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy pace. (For that had seen before with him in the city of Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and draw him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took solderis and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the solderis, they left beating of Paul. Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him” (Acts 21:26-36).

 

            “And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar and eldest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? But Paul said, I am a m an which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue” (Acts 21:37-40).

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about the experience the apostle Paul had in the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul went bound in the spirit up to Jerusalem knowing that bonds and afflictions awaited and abode him and knew that he would be bound by the Jews and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. It would be there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul would indeed experience a tremendous uproar and rising up of the Jews as the Jews which were in Asia stirred up the people who were there in the city. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it wasn’t the Jews which were present in the city of Jerusalem that stirred up the people but rather the Jews which were in Asia. We know from the words which are found in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts that the Jews in Corinth and Thessalonica not only blasphemed themselves but also opposed and resisted the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus. You cannot read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter this tremendous resistance of the Jews toward the apostle Paul as they would not reject and resist the apostle himself but rather the person of the Lord Jesus. What makes this truly intriguing when you think about it is that the Jews were indicted by the apostles for killing the King of glory while in the ninth chapter of this New Testament book we find Jesus speaking unto Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus revealing unto him that it was He whom he was really persecuting. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning the direct correlation and link between the four New Testament gospels and the book of Acts it’s that just as the Jews rejected, despised and resisted Jesus of Nazareth so they would continue their rejection of Him through their actions against the apostles. The New Testament book of Acts is replete with example after example of the assault against the person of Jesus Christ as His servants the apostles and the church would preach and proclaim His name unto both the Jews and Gentiles.

 

            What we find in this passage of Scripture is something we must not ignore for within it we find the Jews continued resistance toward anything that is indeed connected with Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews which were present in Jerusalem and Judaea resisted and rejected the Messiah when He walked among them in the flesh while the Jews which were in Asia rejected and resisted the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostles and the early church preached the risen and exalted Jesus of Nazareth and it was this proclamation and declaration which the Jews themselves resisted and rejected within their hearts and minds. Time and time again the apostle Paul would reason that Jesus was indeed the Christ and that He had indeed risen from the grave and it was this which caused the Jews themselves to blaspheme and oppose themselves. You cannot read the words which are found in this New Testament book and not encounter the tremendous resistance and opposition of the Jews toward the word and name of Jesus of Nazareth as they were not only filled with envy but were also hardened in their hearts. The Jews which were present in Asia would not only blaspheme and oppose themselves but they would also incite both Jews and Gentiles against the apostles and against the word and name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Corinth, in Thessalonica, in Berea and even in Lystra, Iconium and other places whithersoever the apostle Paul went the Jews would stir up the people against them in direct opposition to the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth. This is what is so incredibly unique about the words which we find in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. It is in the ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters of this New Testament book the apostle Paul speaks of the hardening of the hearts of the Jews and how they not only resisted the Holy and Anointed One of the living God but they would also resist the preaching of the word and name of Jesus. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms as well as how it was indeed referenced in the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers taking counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.  Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalms 2:1-12).

 

            “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people image vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:23-31).

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous resistance the Jews had toward the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Just as the Jews during the days in which Jesus walked among us in the flesh resisted and opposed Him so also would the Jews in Asia resist and oppose the preaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus. Here in the midst of the city of Jerusalem we find the Jews which were in Asia not only raising themselves up against the apostle Paul but also stirring up the people against him—and not only stirring up the people against him but also inciting a riot and mob which would set the city on an uproar. Moreover the Jews would falsely accuse the apostle Paul of speaking against the Law, against the Temple and even for bringing a Gentile into the Temple of the living God. This is something which warrants strong consideration as it brings us face to face with the tremendous truth behind how and why the Jews raised themselves up against the apostle Paul in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The Jews which were in Asia would raise themselves up against the apostle Paul, would stir up all those who were in the city against him and carried out beating him there in the midst of the city. Were it not for report coming unto the ears of the chief captain of the Temple and his coming with soldiers the Jews might very well have beaten Paul to death. It would be the divine intervention of the Lord on behalf of the apostle Paul that would keep him from being beaten to death as he would not only need to testify of Jesus in Jerusalem but also in the city of Rome itself. The apostle Paul was indeed destined to journey as far as the city of Rome and testify concerning Jesus of Nazareth and would in fact spend the last years of his life teaching and preaching there in the midst of the capital city of the Roman Empire.

 

If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in these passages of Scripture it’s that just as the Lord Jesus was indeed found to be guilty of committing nothing worthy of death by Pilate so also would the apostle Paul be found innocent of committing anything that was worthy of death. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with Festus and even Agrippa speaking unto the apostle Paul and declaring how they had indeed found no wrong nor any fault with him. It would be when Jesus stood before Pilate accused of the Jews Pilate knew within himself that it was out of envy the Jews delivered Jesus into his hands and called for him to be crucified. Now here we are in the same city in which the Lord Himself stood trial before Pontius Pilate the apostle Paul would stand trial—not only before his accusers but also before religious and political leaders which were present during those days. IT is absolutely incredible that when you read the words found here in these chapters that Festus and Agrippa found absolutely no wrong in the apostle Paul nor did they find him as having committed anything worthy of death. There is something absolutely incredible when reading the words here for although the governor and the king found no fault in the apostle Paul—much like Pilate found no fault with Jesus—the apostle would still stand trial in Rome. Moreover Agrippa would declare unto the apostle Paul that had he not appealed unto Caesar he could have been set at liberty. What makes this all the more astonishing when you take the time to consider it is that when Agrippa came unto Caesarea it would be told him of the apostle Paul and as a direct result of this he would desire to hear the words the apostle would speak. Festus would indeed make Agrippa aware of this man whom the Jews sought to destroy and put to death and how he was bound there in the midst of Caesarea. What a truly wonderful and powerful picture is found here in this passage of Scripture and how the apostle Paul would indeed stand before kings and governor and rulers alike bearing testimony of the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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