“…other than this one statement I shouted while standing among them, ‘Today I am on trial before you concerning the resurrection of the dead.'” (Acts 24:21)
When I think about the Apostle Paul, I think about a man whom God used to spread the gospel throughout the world despite the immense persecution he faced. By God’s grace, I think Paul would agree. Paul remained resolute in his mission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, call people to repentance, confront idols, and other lofty opinions about who God is. He does this all amid physical danger. At one point, Paul is even stripped and beaten with rods (16:22). He was bold. A highlight of Paul’s ministry was that he lived with gospel intentionality. That is, he made the gospel an everyday part of his life to the point that opportunities for presenting the gospel just seemed to find Paul.
In Acts 24, Paul is on trial and what’s interesting is what accusations were brought against him and how the world viewed Paul. Paul’s accusers said that Paul was a “plague” who “stirs up riots among all the Jews.” In other words, Paul is a troublemaker and is actively looking to stir up civil unrest. But Paul was none of those things. He was only a faithful minister of the gospel. He even says that he went “without any crowd or uproar” (24:18). He wasn’t trying to cause any issue. So what did he do? As the crowds were stirred by his presence alone, he shouted, “Today, I am on trial before you concerning the resurrection of the dead” (24:21). It allows him to stand trial and present the gospel in an even more explicit manner than before.
So why aren’t we more intentional with the gospel message? I think one of the reasons may be that we might love the gospel, love Jesus, and worship God, but we fear being treated like Paul was. We fear being rejected, called a plague, and being put on trial and mocked. So what should we do? When we begin to fear those things, we need to remember that our Savior was beaten and rejected so that God would accept us. And because God has accepted us, we need to remember that our story, just like Paul’s, does not end with our trials. Our stories continue into eternity with Jesus. And if an eternity of life and joy awaits us, then the difficulties we face on the way there are infinitesimally small in comparison.