Day 134: Peace at the Price of the Lowest

Acts 22:17-24 :

“It happened that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, and saw him saying to me, ‘Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive testimony concerning me from you.’ I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue those who believed in you. When the blood of Stephen, your witness, was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting to his death, and guarding the cloaks of those who killed him.’

“He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you out far from here to the Gentiles.’”

They listened to him until he said that; then they lifted up their voice, and said, “Rid the earth of this fellow, for he isn’t fit to live!”

As they cried out, and threw off their cloaks, and threw dust into the air, the commanding officer commanded him to be brought into the barracks, ordering him to be examined by scourging, that he might know for what crime they shouted against him like that.

The crowd was calm until Paul mentioned the Gentiles. It would appear that these people were self-righteous enough that even the thought that Paul would go to the Gentiles, or that God would command such a thing was an unspeakable crime.

The Jews kept accusing and the Romans kept on assuming that Paul had done something wrong. Perhaps they believed their own intuition so much that they decided to whip a confession out of him. Roman “scourging” was so horrible that, I am told, men would admit to a crime that they didn’t even commit in order to get them to stop. It is a shame when an authority decides to torture a person to get them to say something that they believe must be true rather than allowing the truth to be known through objective means such as a witness. It is difficult to understand how such a method could produce useful information. Also, all people will have to stand before God someday. When mankind deals out the punishments on behalf of God, it should be done out of respect for God and His laws not out of a sense of self-righteousness or superiority over others. Perhaps they believed he was innocent and they had bad motives.

It’s pretty clear that it wasn’t very wise for the officer to assume that those who were throwing a fit in public were more likely to be innocent than the one who calmly asked permission to speak. The weak and poor can easily be abused when those in authority just want things quiet and don’t care about justice. The Bible tells us that one of the most important things for a leader to do is to give justice to the poor. Here we see the evil that can happen when a leader tries to just make things “peaceful” at the expense of the weak.