[From April 16, 2013]
"They seized (Paul), shouting, 'Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into this temple and has defiled this holy place.'"
It's amazing how quickly we'll believe something without checking the facts for ourselves. In this uber-technological 21st century, we'll call virtually anything emailed to us or posted on the internet as truth - despite the fact that we have the means to research & fact-check better than any other era. But we're lazy. And gullible. And easily swayed. Especially when it comes to religion.
Paul was a victim of this. Ever since he had his encounter with Jesus and became a Christian, people were out to kill him. His own people - devout (extremist?) Jews, of whom he used to be himself. And he knew this trip to Jerusalem would be a dangerous one. Many tried to dissuade him from going. But he felt God had called him, so he went.
The Christians in Jerusalem knew the dangers, too. They knew the rumors that had been flowing around about Paul. So they devised a plan: send him to the temple to participate in a totally Jewish ceremony - a purification ritual. It backfired. Big time. When "the Jews from Asia" (read "haters") saw Paul in the temple, they assumed he'd taken non-Jews (aka Gentiles) into the forbidden area. Without any justification to think so, they simply did. So they stirred up the crowds & caused a riot. The mob pulled Paul out of the temple and began to beat him mercilessly.
No one bothered to fact-check. They all rushed to a false conclusion. It took intervention by the Roman soldiers to break things up and restore civility.
Why do we do that? Why do we allow ourselves to get worked up over things we don't bother to question? Especially when it comes to the area of faith & religion?
Lord, help us...