After a journey of around one hundred miles through Amphipolis and Apollonia, Paul and team come to Thessalonica. Over a period of weeks Paul opens Scripture, reasons and discusses, and explains and proves that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead. His crowning statement is
“This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
(Acts 17.3b, NET)
Personalising the prophecies that the people were familiar with Paul makes the clear-cut case that it’s always been all about Jesus. Some believe (v.4) including devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
As has happened before (at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13b45, 50), at Iconium (Acts 14.2, 5), and at Lystra (Acts 14.19)) we read that the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men…formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. Their anger rests on a man named Jason who is accused of harbouring the travelling team, and he finds himself before the authorities.
To be accused of turning the world upside down, of acting against Rome, and of proclaiming a king other than Caesar would have been a pretty big deal. Jason is forced to put down money as a deposit against future riots (as if he started this one) and then let go.
As believers we never go looking for trouble (Romans 12.18). In fact, quite the opposite is true (1 Timothy 2.1-4). Sometimes, though, as much as we may try to avoid it, trouble comes. Paul has been teaching and talking from Scripture and the town is now in a riot (v.5). Jason, we read, is dragged before the authorities to be the central and culpable figure in a riot he most certainly did not start. Sometimes, as much as we may try to avoid it, trouble comes.
When it does our natural reaction is to fight it. We want to fight worldly troubles in worldly ways, don’t we? Our fight though, in situations like this, not flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual force of evil in the heavens (Ephesians 6.12). Because, in situations like this, our fight is not a worldly one, our response also shouldn’t be a worldly one.
When trouble of this nature comes read 1 Peter 4.12, read Ephesians 6.10-20, and remember that this battle belongs to the Lord (cf. 2 Chronicles 20.15).