God’s People, part 263: Jason

Read Acts 17:1-9

“Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.”  (Acts 7:57-58, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 263: Jason. Now, if you are like me and really, really into the Halloween season and horror movies, you might be scratching your head and thinking, wait a minute, Jason Voorhees was in the New Testament of the Bible? Well, I am sorry to disappoint any Friday the 13th fans out there, but this is not about Jason Voorhees, but about a gentile Christian whose name happened to be Jason. To make up for not having Jason Voorhees as the subject of this devotion and, honestly, that would be are hard one to pull off (though don’t tempt me), I used Jason Voorhees’ image with a minor modification to remind you that it is NOT THAT JASON.

All jokes aside, I can imagine most people didn’t realize that Jason was a Biblical name, but it very much was. In Act 17, Paul and Silas found themselves in the Greek city of Thessalonica, which was where Paul wrote his letters to the Thessalonians to. As was his practice up to this point, Paul would go into the cities and immediately go to the synagogues in order to bring the Good News to diaspora Jewish communities.

This, of course, was met with mixed results. Some people found Paul to be very convincing and became believers in Messiah Jesus; however, others saw Paul to be problematic and stealing away people from their communities of believers. What’s more, they found the teachings about Jesus to be against what they understood the Messiah to be and so they believed that Paul and Silas were leading people astray.

Often times, as was the case in Thessalonica, the leaders of the synagogues and other devout Jews would take to the streets in order to hunt Paul and his companions down, have them beaten, arrested and/or expelled from their cities. That is exactly what happened in Acts 17:1-9. As anyone knows, when communities of people get angry, they form mobs and storm the streets.

That is what these leaders and people did. They went to the house of Jason, where they believed Paul and Silas were. As it turned out, they were not there. So, one might imagine that the mob went back out into the streets to search for Paul. Nope. Reason and mobs don’t go often go together. Instead, this angry mob siezed Jason and some other believers in his household and took them before the town council, after which they were thrown in Jail and made to post bail.

There’s an important lesson here for us to learn. I am sure, individually, the members of this mob were decent people who loved God and were trying to safe-keep their faith. Gatekeepers are important when it comes to religious integrity, to a degree; however, mobs and mob mentality are NEVER godly things and they often lead to people getting persecuted, hurt and even destroyed. What’s more, decent people turn into abhorrent monsters when in a mob.

Let us be the anti-mob. It is very easy for Christians to get into the mob mentality. I have seen it happen in churches, were a large group of people suddenly and angrily turn on a pastor or other leaders. I have seen it on Twitter, Facebook and Social Media, where a group of Christians berate and belittle other believers for holding different beliefs than them. Mob mentality, whether in person or virtual, is not godly and we, as Christians, are called to be the anti-mob, where we view all people, whether we like them or not, as beloved children of God created in His image. Let us be challenged by this and continue to grow into who God has created us to be.

“There is nothing more foolish, nothing more given to outrage than a useless mob.” – Herodotus

Lord, help me to live my life and approach differences, even conflict, with your wisdom, discernment and love. Amen.

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