26 July 2019Acts 13:13-41
And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. (v.14b)
Psalm: Psalm 12
Today's passage presents us with the strategies for mission which Paul and his companions used. For some reason John, actually John Mark, leaves Paul's group to return to Jerusalem. We don't know why - although we can surmise that he may have had doubts about preaching to Gentiles or have been afraid of the rather dangerous journey the others were about to undertake. It is interesting to note that on Paul's second missionary, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark but Paul refused. Paul and Barnabas split over this (Acts 15:37-39). There were similar fallings out in early Methodism, as in so many other Christian missions and Churches. From Paul's later writings we know that John Mark was back with Paul on some later journeys. There had been a reconciliation.
Paul's initial mission strategy was to seek out a group of Jews in each place he visited, to go to the synagogue and sit down with the people. Jews would have the background against which to hear the Jesus story. But Paul did not just barge in and begin to preach. He sat down with them first and let them get to know him. Then Paul begins where they are and traces God's work of revelation, salvation history, up to the time of Jesus in the only full-length sermon of Paul's which we possess.
- Mission was at the core of the early Church – how fundamental is it in the life of our congregations?
- Paul and his companions always tried to identify with the people to whom they spoke. They told them about God's work in Jesus beginning from where the people were. How hard do you try in outreach to start from where people are, rather than from where one would wish them to be?