Imagine for a moment how strange the claims of the Gospel would sound to those who don’t already believe. All the talk of crosses, blood, tombs, and thrones might seem to border on insanity—not to mention virgin births, walking on water, and white horses in the sky!
Surely these things seemed unbelievable to many who first heard the Gospel, just as many people today find Christian claims irrational. Of course, Christians believe that the Bible is grounded in history, proven by experience, and not only rationally defensible, but the Truth revealed from God himself. But what if you didn’t already believe? What if you had never heard the Good News?
As we end the book of Acts, imagine for a moment that you lived in Rome and met Paul while he was there in prison, preaching the Gospel unhindered. As you pass by, he greets you and strikes up a conversation. It quickly turns to Jesus and you begin to consider what Paul is telling you.
Of all that you hear, there is one part of the story that seems particularly foolish. That is the claim that Jesus Christ was the true King. How could Paul, a man imprisoned in the heart of the world’s most powerful empire, claim that Jesus reigned? Clearly Paul is at the mercy of Rome. What a bizarre claim for a prisoner to make!
As you see the scars on his body, and hear the stories of his life, you are even more perplexed. Paul describes himself as an ambassador for King Jesus. What kind of King would let this happen to his servant? Shipwrecks, trials, imprisonment, beatings. Don’t these things prove that Jesus isn’t in control?
When you ask him the question, Paul smiles. “No,” he might say. “You see, Jesus is a different kind of king.”
He is the kind of king who proves his power by showing mercy. He is the kind of king who girds himself as a servant and washes feet. He’s the kind of king who remembers those the world has forgotten. He’s the kind of king who raises the dead.
He’s the kind of king who binds the brokenhearted and offers freedom to the captive. He’s the kind of king who welcomes little children. He’s the kind of king who transforms the wicked heart. He’s the kind of king who calls back the wayward son.
He’s the kind of king who wears a crown of thorns. He’s the kind of king who lays down his life. He’s the kind of king who stands by you in prison, stays with you in the deepest waters, and prepares a table for you in the presence of your enemy.
“Yes,” he might say again, “I know it sounds strange. Many pretend to run the world, but only One truly does. And even if I die, I trust my King will bring me home. Nothing can stop my King, and nothing ever will.”
As you walk away, you can’t decide whether or not Paul has lost his mind, or whether there is some truth in what he is saying. You decide perhaps you’ll talk to him again tomorrow. After all, even the guards don’t seem to be hindering him from sharing the story (Acts 28:31).
Church, as we end the book of Acts, may we be a people who continue to proclaim King Jesus to a world that desperately needs to know. With all boldness. Without hindrance. The only name given among men, by which we must be saved.