This week I am preaching through Acts 23:11-35 at my home church in Waco (Grace Church). This passage is probably the most difficult I have ever preached on. It is not difficult because it contains things I don’t really understand well, like end-times theology or stuff about females. Nothing in at, at least that I can see right now, is all that theologically complicated. And it is not difficult because it is worded oddly. It is very straightforward.
It is difficult because it is primarily a lot of historical facts about a specific time in the apostle Paul’s life. That poses a difficulty to me because I am trying to figure out why I should care about those facts, such as who the governor of Judea was at the time. Why does this matter for a 24 year old dude who lives in Waco, or a church in Waco?
If you read Acts 23:12-36, you will at least see where I’m coming from with all of this. But here are two things that have struck me and have comforted and excited my heart about this passage.
First, Christianity is historical. Commentator James M. Boice explains the historicity of Christianity like this:
If you take away the history–if you reduce it, as some have tried to do, to a religion of
mere ethics or ideas–Christianity evaporates. This is because Christianity is indissolubly
linked to the life and accomplishments of Christianity’s founder [Jesus Christ].
If Jesus did not actually come in history, and die in history, and rise in history, as Christians, we are of all people to be pitied.
Secondly, God is at work in the obscure, common, average, and hazy circumstances of life. Acts 23:12-26, at first glance, does not seem to contain anything that will “preach.” But when you look at it, and really look at it, you see God all over the place, working for the advancement of his gospel and the good of his child, Paul. God commonly works in the common circumstances and common people of life. He ordinarily works in the ordinary circumstances and ordinary people of life.
If you are ordinary, average, or just OK, or you live in the ordinary, average, or OK-ness of life, that is good news, because God works in those places and through those kinds of people. Jesus was indeed the God-man. And as a man, he was ordinary. He was born to an ordinary woman in an obscure town, grew up in a family, worked a trade, ate food, took naps, told jokes, laughed at jokes, and lived ordinary life in an ordinary body. Yet He did extraordinary things by the power of God.
If you are in Jesus, if you have trusted that, in history, He lived a perfect life, died for your sin, and rose from the dead, you can be sure that God is at work in you and in your life for your good. Jesus died so that common folk who repent of sin and trust in him might be filled with His Spirit and do ordinary things for his glory, trusting that God is always at work in and through them.