You Whitewashed Wall!
A little backstory. Paul has returned to Jerusalem much to the chagrin of those around him. Just as they prophesied, Paul is arrested and put on trial. Eventually, Paul appeals and travels to Rome, but first he appears before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest.
The Sanhedrin was a Jewish court of law (it was established centuries before by Moses). There were actually Sanhedrin’s all over Israel, but this Sanhedrin was like the Supreme court. The High Priest presided over the Sanhedrin.
This is where Paul finds himself in Acts 23 –
1And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” -Acts 23:1-4
Paul was fired up. He went right after that ole whitewashed wall, Ananias…the High Priest himself. There seems to be some debate on why Paul spoke like he did. Some theories:
- Paul had an eye condition and couldn’t see who he was talking to.
- Ananias was a temporary fill-in, and Paul was unaware.
- Paul has lost his mind, so to speak, and loses track to who he is speaking to.
We also know according to the ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, that Ananias was known as corrupt and lawless in his position. He held his office with nothing more in mind than himself.
While it would seem we don’t know Paul’s reason for his rash statement to Ananias, he is justified in saying it. Right?
Not exactly. Look at the very next line of the text –
And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” -Romans 23:5
Honoring Spiritual Leaders
This week, we are focusing on honor – God, parents, others, spiritual leaders and authority. Pastor David preached Sunday on the topic, and each day for our devotions, we are focusing on one of those sub-topics.
Today, it’s honoring our spiritual leaders.
What Paul does in Acts 23 is amazing. In mid-tirade, he stops. In the midst of dressing down a man, he slams on the brakes. Why?
Paul recognizes not the man, but the position the man holds. Whether Paul agrees with him or not, the High Priest is a place of honor. God honored that position – even if the culture didn’t.
Thankfully, the pastors, GROW group leaders and other teachers at Cross Points are not corrupt, lawless and selfish in their dealings with you and me. It makes it easier to show them honor, but there will be opportunity for disagreement.
What will you do at that moment?
The same Paul who apologized above, wrote this to the Roman Christians –
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. -Romans 13:1
This was written in reference to political and civic leaders, but the principle remains the same. God has placed spiritual leaders over you, will you honor them?
Today, take stock of your life. Who are the men or women in places of leadership over you spiritually? Are you showing them honor? How can you better honor these men or women?