Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Obsessed with Revenge
Acts 25:3 and requested, as a favor to them against Paul, to have him transferred to Jerusalem. They were, in fact, planning an ambush to kill him along the way.
Can you imagine the hostility of the religious leaders who two years later are still plotting Paul’s demise! They were obsessed with this follower of the Way and were certain to plan his demise. Forty conspirators had approached the Sanhedrin two years before with a plot to kill Paul. Now they didn’t need anyone else to suggest the idea but on their own initiative they misled a government official and planned their own execution of Paul. They were certainly obsessed!
To what lengths are you willing to go to get your way? For the Jews in Jerusalem to continue their hunt for Paul and devise such a scheme for his murder two years since he had been in the city clearly reveals that they were obsessed with the idea of punishing him. It leaves us wondering whether they had been plotting the entire time as to how they would be able to get rid of him. Sadly, this obsession with Paul could have become so all-consuming that it had an effect on every part of their lives.
Paul was living quite peaceably as a prisoner in Caesarea. This is a beautiful sea-side town and he seems to have had pretty decent quarters with people who cared for his personal needs. You don’t get the sense that it was altogether uncomfortable. However, for the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem — they just couldn’t let it go! They and their family members had to suffer the consequences of their obsession while Paul went on sharing his faith with everyone he encountered.
If someone has done something to you, legitimately or not, holding a grudge for an extended period of time will do nothing to help the situation. Those with the grudge were the ones unhappy — not Paul! Their obsession led them to lying, manipulation and a planned murder. That’s a long way to go for a religious official and gives us a glimpse of the depths of their obsession with revenge. They hated Paul!
Today we celebrate the beginning of Lent. This is a special season of reflection, a time when we intentionally deny ourselves so that we may participate in the life of the suffering servant, Christ. We don’t need any distractions and for that to happen we just may need to let some things go. Let go of the pain of the past and the damaged relationships. Let go of the people who have mistreated you. Let go of the frustrating limitations placed upon ourselves by our own self-doubt.
Obsession with the past is self-destructive. Leave the things of the past behind and move into a season of focus on Christ. Today we are challenged to “repent, and believe the Gospel.” Repent of the obsessions and leave them behind, moving into a new future where we live united with Christ, the one who sets us free!
Lord, please help me keep my eyes on you as I follow you in this journey. Amen.