After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” Acts 28:17-22 ESV
Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:11-14 ESV
Elizabeth Bennett met a young man named Mr. Darcy, and he became interested in her because she was intelligent and charming. Elizabeth didn’t like him as much at first, though. She thought he was unpleasant and arrogant, but another reason she didn’t like him was because another man named Mr. Wickham told her lies about him. He said that Mr. Darcy had cheated him out of his inheritance. In time, after Mr. Darcy had gotten to know Elizabeth a little better, he asked her to marry him, and she refused. She told him she didn’t like the way he had cheated Mr. Wickham. Darcy later wrote her a letter explaining that Wickham was lying and that he hadn’t cheated him at all. Mr. Wickham’s lies had caused trouble between Darcy and the young woman he wanted to marry, and he needed a chance to defend himself with the truth.
Paul worried that he was in the same kind of situation. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had hated him and wanted to see him dead, and he was afraid that their lies about him had reached the Jewish community in Rome. So, soon after he arrived in Rome he called the Jewish leaders together to come and see him, and he told them why he was a prisoner and what had happened. He wanted them to hear the good news about Jesus, but he knew that if they believed lies about him they would never listen to what he had to tell them. The Jewish leaders in Rome hadn’t heard the lies about Paul, and they were willing to learn more about his message. They knew that people all over the empire disagreed with those who followed Jesus, and the Jewish leaders of Rome were ready to hear about it and to judge for themselves.
There were people who hated Jesus and told lies about him, and he allowed them to do this. He even allowed them to condemn him to death and to put him on a cross. He did that so that he could pay for the sins of the whole world, and because of what he’s done for us we can know God’s love and forgiveness. We want to share the truth about Jesus with others, but sometimes they will tell lies about us or not want to listen to us. But we can share the love of Jesus with kindness and patiently tell the truth, and know that the Holy Spirit can use our words to bring people home to their Heavenly Father.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for us. Please help us to tell the truth about Jesus to others. In His Name, Amen.
Austen, Jane Pride and Prejudice London: Thomas Egerton, 1813.