Loving the Mob

by | Aug 27, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor Chuck Holiday

Scripture: Acts 21:27-36

Jesus promised trouble and persecution for those who stand for Him and he promises strength to love our tormentors.


Amen great to see you all this morning that’s uh just a wonderful privilege always to open God’s word together and we’re continuing this this uh narrative in action and from David’s uh message last week you remember that um Paul basically had this you know this is an interesting uh day for the Apostle Paul because he thought this was going to be an easy day remember he had met with Peter and James and the apostles well we’re not sure if Peter was there but James and the apostles it says the leaders in Jerusalem and they’d say look Paul uh this isn’t your fight you know we praise God for all that’s been done and uh in the Gentile world and all these Gentiles that are coming to Faith and becoming Christians but we’ve got thousands of Jews who’ve been converted here in Jerusalem and every one of them is zealous for the law of God they are it’s still really really important to them that that we’re all Jews and uh we can be Christian Jews but we’re Jews and and so what we want you to do is we want you to show everybody in Jerusalem that you’re still a Jew and that you still observe all the Jewish Customs so that we can defuse this situation because it’s volatile you know and Paul you know he was a fighter I mean he was a terrorist before he became a Christian literally literally he was a terrorist and um he was a fighter and I I can imagine that Paul had to swallow real hard and say we’re not going to explain this to them we’re not going to tell them that they don’t have to be Jews anymore they can be but they don’t have to be and and James and the other said Paul just give us time just give us time let’s not now’s not the time for the fight and Paul said okay and so when Paul was going to the temple to this day in his mind he’s thinking okay there’s going to be an arrest there’s going to be a there’s going to be an ugly scene eventually and it’s going to be hard but thank God it’s not today because today we’re taking the path of peace and and you know there was part of them that had this kind of swallow you know his Fighter’s Spirit but there’s another part of him I’m sure that said yeah thank God it’s not today thank God it’s not today well you never know when it’s coming do you know you just never know

um he had decided to take the path of peace that day

and that’s not how it ended up you know that’s the thing about a mob you never know when it’s coming do you

and you never know who it’s going to be

uh I doubt many of us have been in this kind of mob but we’ve all been in a mob haven’t we

you know these these were Paul’s people do you realize you remember these these were Paul’s people 20 23 years ago Paul was one of them he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees he went to school with some of these guys in Jerusalem under Gamaliel

and he knew they didn’t like where he had gone but I but I you know as he looked around at these people that he was

he didn’t expect it here he probably didn’t expect it to be from some Jew from Ephesus you know it wasn’t even the Jerusalem Jews that started this thing it was it was this this guy in his party from Ephesus who showed up at the temple that day and ignited this huge cry you know if you’ve been in a mob you know a mob can be on a school bus

um mob can be in a classroom where you inadvertently say something stupid in the in the whole class including all your friends start laughing at you mob can be at your first sleepover when you went to bed accidentally and all of a sudden you know you’ve you just feel alone and isolated and shamed or a mob can be physical you know where they actually lay hands on you the way they did to Paul

most of us have stories of being bullied that we don’t want to share you know almost share anything besides those stories of being bullied they’re they’re horrible they’re shameful there’s something about being isolated helpless defenseless unjustly

abused and criticized and misunderstood and there’s usually half truths that are in the that are in the air that are not true at all

well here’s here’s the question I want you to think about this morning it’s it’s not how to avoid the mob and it’s not even how to survive the mob here’s the real question for us as Christians how can I love the mob how can I love the people that do this to me

the way Paul loved them this day

and indeed the way Jesus loved the mom well you know there are two interesting parallels in Luke’s writings really really interesting gripping parallels to this story in in Luke’s writings um the first one is Jesus himself and and all the old commentators uh pick this up it’s hard to miss you know just like Paul went to Jerusalem knowing that he was going to suffer there Jesus said clearly heard from the Holy Spirit okay this is your time you’re on your you’re on your death march here you’re not going to escape this one Jesus the similarities of being handed over to the Mob of you know just the unfair accusations just being alone I you know in the mob I mean so many parallels to Jesus um one of the interesting one that you can’t help it but miss here in this In this passage is the last uh verse that we read the the the mob kept following and kept shouting away with him uh remember what they said in Luke’s own writing in chapter 23 verse 18 about Jesus remember what the crowd said when Herod said look I think I said I Pilots I think I should let him go there’s nothing wrong you remember what the crowd sounded away with this man same words same writer Luke Wright wrote Luke and of course the road ax it’s hard to miss in that in Luke’s mind there’s a parallel here yeah we’ve heard this story before this is what happened to Jesus um the other parallel is with Stephen back in chapter six those of you who have been with us in this study of Acts remember back in chapter six so many similarities to the accusations they made against Stephen and the ones they made against Paul remembering back in chapter Stephen was the first martyr in the Christian in the Christian era he’s the first of many thousands to follow including Paul but in chapter 6 they produce false Witnesses who testified this fellow never stopped speaking against this holy place and against the law that’s exactly what they were saying now 22 years two years later about Paul now um those two parallels are going to be important for us to answer this question how can we as Christians love the mob

that is against us unfairly accuses us is merciless how can it how can we stand and love our abusers you know you can encounter a mob in a boardroom

you know you walk in thinking it’s just another meeting and all of a sudden you you see everybody sitting on they’re all there early and they’re all sitting on one side of the table any of you been there

all of a sudden you realize this feels like a mob and I don’t even know what I did and you look around the room and you think well that’s Ralph we just went golfing yesterday what’s going on

you’ve been in a mob haven’t you I mean it’s it’s it’s terrible alone outnumbered helpless voiceless unfairly accused presumed guilty Aiden you know there’s there’s so many feelings of Terror of panic but I think probably the most prominent feeling when you’re in the hands of a mob like this is shame there’s this incredible sense of Shame that that just hangs on you it’s a horrible thing now now let’s let’s look at this mob a little bit more uh who was in the mob what was the mob that day well in verse 27 in 28 it says when seven days were nearly over some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple they stirred up the whole crowd and seized him shouting men of Israel help us well who were the men of Israel that day first of all there were the the Jews from Ephesus who started the thing but then that who were they appealing to who were the men of Israel at the temple that day well there were probably most certainly there were two groups one where the unbelieving Jews the Jews who had not yet come to believe that Jesus was their Messiah they they clearly were were there the whole city had not been converted yet but in the previous texts last week we heard that thousands of them had been converted now Jerusalem was not it was big but it wasn’t that big um there were thousands of converted Jews and Paul says this is what I want you to know or Luke says this is what I want you to know about them they were all zealous for the law they were they were they had believed that Jesus was their Messiah but a lot of them were what is called in the New Testament judaizers judaizers followed Paul and disrupted his ministry wherever he went judaizers were sort of converted they believed that Jesus was the Messiah but really what they were is they were Christian Jews they were not Jewish Christians can you hear the difference in that they they were Christian Jews they saw the Messiah as helping them fulfill Judaism

okay the Messiah has come and we didn’t quite understand it all but it’s looking pretty good and he died for our sins and that’s awesome and he’s going to help the whole world become Jewish

that’s what they believed and they were considered sort of in the church but they were constantly attacking Paul in his message of God the gospel of grace now Paul never told people you have to stop being a Jew but he said it’s optional now because Christ is the completion of all that our prophets in the Old Testament have been telling us is going to come he is the Fulfillment Jesus didn’t come to help us be better Jews we are now Jewish Christians the question is where’s your ultimate Allegiance now to the judaizers their ultimate Allegiance was clearly still in their Judaism their observance of the customs of Judaism culturally that’s what they live for

for Paul when he became a Christian everything in his life changed now he was still a Jew but his Allegiance his ultimate Allegiance completely shifted he went from persecuting Christians to being persecuted for being one now let me let me give you a parallel if I can um well let me just say this because I went who was in the crowd I want to finish my thought there well there there were Jews from Ephesus most of them though were the men of Israel from Jerusalem some of them were unbelieving Jews and some of them were what we would have called Christian Jews believe Jesus is the Messiah but their ultimate Allegiance was still to Judaism and they bonded together in that moment and said what we all agree on is we hate Paul because he’s destroying Judaism now there was probably another group and this is painful but where were the elders where was James where were the true Christians we don’t know and and I don’t I don’t want to I don’t want to say more than I know here from the scripture but there’s in a mob isn’t there always a silent group who come to you after the board meeting and said man I’m sorry what happened to you

that sucks

and what do you say why didn’t you say then I was alone you know those things weren’t true right

I mean your bedwetting sleepover weren’t you just crying out for your best friend Robbie to to say something

you know there’s always a silent part of the mob right and there’s a warning for us isn’t there

okay well let me the question is Ultimate Allegiance now let me give you an illustration Nazi Germany okay there were non-Christian Germans Pagan Germans not uh Hitler was probably one of those okay most of Germany was Christian at least Church going there were Christian Germans and then there were guys like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who is a German Christian

get the difference

most of the church in Germany didn’t say a word because they were Christian Germans

where was their ultimate Allegiance


then there was Dietrich Von Hoffer who went to prison for speaking out against the atrocities and when his fellow clergyman came to visit him in prison their question was Dietrich why are you in prison and what was his question to them why aren’t you in prison

isn’t that the question right

okay let’s let’s get to our that’s the crowd that’s the mob

some of them are good friends some of them go golfing together

but when the question of ultimate Allegiance comes up there’s a division

my friends our country is full of Christian businessmen

Christian athletes Christian movie stars

Christian fill in the blank

the question is where is your ultimate Allegiance for Paul when he was converted everything in his life got converted his wallet got diverted his tent making got converted his relationships got converted because he understood that Jesus is Lord and I belong to him and all these other avenues in my life are now ways to serve Jesus you know you can be a Christian entrepreneur and it can just be the best way you know to make more money

I mean we actually live in a land where the gospel of prosperity is being preached this morning in churches all over the land and the message is come to Jesus and you will benefit financially


where’s the ultimate allegiance that was never Jesus message was it I mean Jesus said if you follow me you will suffer

it’s going to cost you because your ultimate Allegiance is going to be counter to the spirit of this age now I love that you know Paul wasn’t looking for a fight this day he wasn’t trying to be a martyr he was actually taking a a path of Peace this day but my friends it will find you if your Allegiance is to Jesus it will find you now now the question when you’re in the mob when you’re when you’re at the hands of the mob well the first question that usually comes up is why is this happening to me

because you look around the mob and they’re usually they usually don’t all look like atheists you know who hate Christians it’s in our brain you know not that atheists do by the way I’ve had some really really good friends who are atheists who are the most kind loving people I think I’ve ever met but you know you that in our mind we we envision but we certainly don’t envision our fellow church people being part of the mob you know and so we ask well why is this happening to me

um Tim Keller’s got a great quote on this uh this this text he said so in the end the parallels of Paul with Christ are not to show us how exceptional Paul is as a Christian but how unexceptional he is Jesus said all men will hate you because of me a student is not above his master see we want to look at Paul and say well yeah it happened to him because he’s such a super Christian well Keller’s point is if you’re a Christian at all this is gonna find you

because in the eyes of your friends you’re gonna be perceived at some point as a traitor because you follow a higher Allegiance than the one that drives their life so the so how’s this how’s this gonna what’s I told you these two parallels are going to help us the question is how do we love the mob the first answer to that is we remember what they did to Jesus

that we remember they did this to Jesus and this this addresses the shame question because I’m telling you when you when you’re the handsable mob shame is always there somewhere in the mix of feelings

and this is addresses this addresses that my friends when you’re a sinner I’m a sinner when people accuse you and falsely accuse you of things there’s always some of it that you got to say yeah that’s probably that part probably I have to own right but I didn’t deserve this right isn’t that how that goes Jesus Jesus said look yeah you’re a sinner but that’s not what’s going on right now this is about you belonging to me and what you feel and shame is actually your honor

this is your honor to stand and to suffer because you have chosen to follow me as the Lord of your life my friends that can help

you can deal with the pain but the shame will destroy you and you can embrace the pain and reject the shame because the shame does not belong to you when you suffer from Jesus

this is this is brings us to the second thing that will help us remember Stephen when he was at hands of the mob remember he looked into heaven then he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the father and I when I preached on this a number of months ago but you know when why do you stand when somebody walks into the room what do you do if you want if you if it’s somebody important to you what do you do when somebody walks into the room important to you you stand you stand to greet them that’s all that’s all Stephen needed that day

I can see into heaven and I can see my savior standing to welcome me and I can take anything now

isn’t that beautiful the other thing that can help us and that Stephen narrative

because you know how do you how do you how do you experience the mob

and love the mob and not feel like you’re better than the mob isn’t that ultimately the thing that gets us

how do you not end up feeling proud that you’re better than the people attacking you

well remembering that Stephen narrative

remember what it says in chapter 8 verse 1 the next verse after they stoned Stephen

and the young man Paul was there giving his ascent and holding the coats of the men who were stoning Stephen

Paul never forgot that he had been part of the mob

even as he’s being unfairly beaten that day it’s you know it’s not an easy thing to have men lay hands on you says they laid their hands on him this got physical and they were beating him they were trying to kill him saved by the Roman officer that day

but somehow in that Paul could remember that I too have been in the mob and you know my friends if you’ve ever been in the mob then you could be in the mob again Robert Murray McShane said the seed of every known sin to man resides in my heart

you know one of the one of the great uh examples of this in history Chuck Colson wrote about it many many years ago but you know um Adolf Eichmann was one of the architects of the Holocaust and when the Israelis finally captured him many many years later and brought him to trial one of the witnesses was was a a man named johar just a small frail broken man you know later in his life and he had to stand in the courtroom in front of Adolf Eichmann and give testimony to the abuses that he’d observed and when he when he saw him in the courtroom he just broke down he just broke down and everybody assumed it was because of the fear you know and later in a 60-minute interview he said what struck him it wasn’t his fear of Eichmann at that moment what struck him was that Eichmann did not look like an evil monster anymore he looked like an ordinary person just like anyone else and in that moment the nurse said I realized that evil is endemic to The Human Condition and that any one of us could commit the same atrocities

his conclusion is this Eichmann is in all of us

my friends even in the hands of an angry mob the Apostle Paul knew I too am capable of this

there’s only one who is not guilty and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ the only one who’s ever been subject to a mob who has never himself been part of a mob is Our Savior Jesus Christ he’s greater than the Apostle Paul there are so many similarities but

Paul was a sinner Jesus wasn’t

Paul was measured was given a measure of protection this day God the intervened The Sovereign Lord From Heaven intervened and sent the Roman soldiers that day to protect Paul and deliver him from the mob there was no protection for Jesus

now God could have sent the protection right but he didn’t

Stephen was able to look up into heaven and and see that Jesus standing there to honor him

when Jesus tried to look up into heaven what did he see not the face of the father because the father had to hide his face that day because Jesus died on a cross suffering in our place rejected by the father

that might have felt like a mob

my God my God why are you doing this

he hung on the cross and he stayed in the mob for us my friend if you if you’re subject to the mom you’re not going to be alone the Lord Jesus is with you he can give you honor for the shame you feel and ultimately you are going to receive honor and glory with your lord Jesus Christ for standing for him What A Savior we have

praise God

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