… [Paul] reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ (Acts 17.2b-3).
This week in Acts our passage turns on that message from Paul, especially the truth that Jesus suffered—before being raised, before being glorified. The unbelievers in Thessalonica won’t like that one bit, because a Messiah who suffered for them means that they’re not all that good. In fact, they’re far from God and will need to change to embrace this Jesus who suffered. That’s the “jealous” response of the Thessalonian unbelievers Luke describes for us (:5).
We struggle in the same way, don’t we? If we embrace Jesus who suffered, then Jesus might expect us to suffer in following Him, then following Him will cost us, in leisure time, personal peace, and affluence. Do we really want that?
That all depends on whether we really want Jesus. The Thessalonians’ neighbors to the south, the Bereans, will be more “noble” (a word having the idea of generosity). The Beareans will “receive” the word, examine the Scriptures daily, and finally believe in this Jesus who suffered.
In the end, JESUS is worth embracing, because in embracing JESUS who suffered we get to embrace JESUS. That makes all the difference in our own times of trouble. Knowing that JESUS suffered means we’re on the right path when we experience trouble in following Him. Knowing that JESUS suffered means we’re raised with Him in newness of life now and will be raised in every sense at His return.
Knowing that JESUS suffered means we can eagerly embrace Him in our times of trouble.
Here’s a few questions for discussion with others. We’ll see you this Sunday at Woodland!
- What about the idea of a suffering Christ would have been offensive to the Jews, then to the Greeks?
- What about this same idea is most offensive to Americans, and then (gulp!) to you?
- How did the Bereans respond differently than the Thessalonians? And what difference did it make in receiving Paul and Silas?
- How does knowing that Jesus suffered before being raised invite me to think about my own trouble?
- How does knowing that Jesus suffered before being raised invite me to think and feel about Jesus?