Acts 13:13- 41: The big picture.
“13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, ‘Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.’ 16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: ‘Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. ‘After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled for forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” 23 ‘From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Saviour Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: “Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 26 ‘Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognise Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had travelled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. 32 ‘We tell you the good news: what God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ‘“You are my son; today I have become your father.” 34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said, ‘“I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.” 35 So it is also stated elsewhere: ‘“You will not let your holy one see decay.” 36 ‘Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. 38 ‘Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: 41 ‘“Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish,for I am going to do something in your day that you would never believe, even if someone told you.”’” NIV UK
When you are doing a jigsaw, individual pieces of the puzzle can appear, well…puzzling! You have to keep looking at the lid to try to see where they fit. You need the big picture to help you. It’s like that with the Bible too. Isolated readings (especially in the Old Testament) can leave you scratching your head. You need to try to understand how they fit into the whole. Although Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, his bed-rock belief was that the gospel message is ‘’first for the Jew, then for the Gentile’’ (Romans 1:16). So his regular pattern was to visit the synagogue first. That was his course in Pisidian Antioch. Working with Jews, Paul started with the Old Testament. In evangelism, it’s good to start where people are; to scratch where they itch. Jews knew the Old Testament. In this sermon Paul shows them the big picture – what’s on the lid; and demonstrates how Jesus fits into the middle of it. He dominates the scene.We might well see verses 32 and 33a as his text for the sermon:
‘’We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.’’
Nevertheless, the sermon is more than a description of how Jesus, the Messiah, has fulfilled ancient prophecies. It is a call to put one’s trust in Him and experience the wiping clean of the slate (38, 39). It is also a warning of a very real pitfall, described in Habakkuk 1:5. This is so marvellous you could miss out. It may feel ‘too good to be true’. In truth, it is so good and it is true! Do you believe on Jesus?
PRAYER: Lord, this ‘big picture’ makes my heart burn with wonder and joy. I fall on my feet and say ‘thank you’.