Acts 17:Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. 3 He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” 4 Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women. 5 But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 6 Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. 7 And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
Paul was very direct in what he would do when he came into a new town or colony. First, go directly to the church. Second, preach the message of salvation. Third, disciple the new converts. The response from those towns was First, reject the message of Paul as heresy. Second, get a group of people against them and spread lies about Paul, Third, falsely accuse Paul, beat him, and put him in jail or run him out of town. Talk about a tough crowd. In Thessalonica, there was a Jewish synagogue or church. So Paul thinks "Hey, I'll go into this group of people who worship God and tell them about Jesus and that He is the fulfillment of the prophecies they have been reading for hundreds of years, and they will accept the message and rejoice that Messiah has come." WRONG! In this city, Paul preached three Sundays in a row and all it got him was what we see in the above verses.
Those three Sunday Sabbath services resulted in some believing and following Jesus, but others getting troublemakers to form a mob and start a riot. A riot? Imagine this. If Paul came into one of the cities in our world today and went to a church and preached that Jesus is the only way to eternal life in heaven. A group of "religious" people are convicted in their hearts and begin to get some hoodlums together and start a riot and they shut down traffic and burn and loot all because of the message of the gospel? I know that seems extreme, but looking at it that way helps us realize just what kind of opposition Paul had to deal with.
But in Thessalonica, it didn't stop there. They pick up a man named Jason and accuse him of treason because Paul supposedly stayed in his home. Talk about "guilty by association!" When they used the "treason" word that is against Caesar. The Roman arm of punishment was vast and it was all because they professed allegiance to Jesus, the king of kings. Also, the religious people in this city used the Roman rules to stand against Paul and the message of salvation he was preaching. It would be like certain religious people of today hating the message that Jesus is the only way instead of just another way and persecuting those who were preaching the message and using the law of the country to convict them. It seems that history is only repeating itself as satan again and again tries to shut down the message of the gospel by shutting down churches that are preaching it.
The Dividing Line of the Message of Jesus bears down on those who are lost or just religious and their response to this conviction can many times be aggressive so as to shut down the message itself. Nothing will shut down this message and the Holy Spirit will continue to convict and bring people to the point of salvation if we will just share the message. Where is your missionary field? This message should be ready to share through your personal testimony of salvation in your life.
The Pilgrimage Continues