The Way that Refused to Go Away (10)
Saul knew exactly what he was doing by accepting leadership for destruction of Christ’s church. Looking back on the experience approximately fourteen years later he is unflinching in laying bare his motivations.
113For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; 14and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
Saul was on the fast track to power. Had he succeeded he would have been elevated to the top leadership in Judaism at a very young age. In addition, the Roman authorities would have recognized in Saul a man with whom they could do business with confidence.
All that was required to attain this glory was the destruction of a strange but amazingly stubborn cult of personality around this man Jesus. Of course many lives would have to be destroyed in the process, but they had challenged the faith of his fathers and the peace of the empire. Such fools had asked for whatever was to be their fate. If a clever man’s career could be accelerated in the process, well, then all the better.
And so we take out leave from this account with Christ’s Church scattered and on the run for their very lives, and, in pursuit, Saul of Tarsus, who in his hatred and capability was as close as can be approximated on earth to a demon raised from Hades. Surely this was finally the end of this ridiculous Jesus-Way; must have thought the self-satisfied religious and Roman leadership.
For all things human they had every reason to think so. What they didn’t know, but should have by then was that this wasn’t something human. The wise Gamaliel had said when the Sanhedrin was debating what to do about the apostles (Acts 5:38b, 39).
“for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
And that is exactly what they were doing – opposing God. So, what looked from a human point of view like a steamroller to victory was actually one heading for a cliff. All the wisdom, might and hatred of the world focused on the eradication of this Way was only so much fluff for God to blow aside.
It didn’t look that way to these early Christ followers. They must have been living in tremendous fear. But, when the dust settled and God’s action had been revealed, it would be the simple followers of Jesus who would understand the amazing truth buried inside the astonishing response and counter response to Christ’s crucifixion.
but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27)
The “wise” of this world would learn nothing.