When I first read this passage, I recognized a few themes that run through the book of Acts. First, there are different responses by the Thessalonians and the Bereans. The Thessalonians reject Paul’s message because they couldn’t wrap their head around a suffering Messiah, but the Bereans eagerly search God’s Word and believe. The juxtaposition of the two cities is definitely worth some additional reflection. Second, you have the opposition to the Gospel. Even in Paul’s day, the world was resistant to the way of Jesus. Third, what about Jason’s faithfulness to the Gospel (I must admit I’ve always had a particular interest in his story) and the resulting trouble it brought him. All three worthwhile points for more thought and reflection.
But as I was reading Darrell Bocks Commentary on Acts, I got to thinking about accusations of the zealous Jews of Thessalonica and their raucous group of troublemakers. The way Luke writes these two stories, he gets us thinking one way, only to carefully pull the curtain back to reveal just a bit more. When I read the accusations this mob was making, my first thought was to dismiss them as trumped-up charges of people who were just angry because their “church” (so to speak) was losing its valuable members. But as I was studying their accusations, I slowly (perhaps painfully so) began to think – “you know, their accusations are actually true.” When the mob hauls “Jason and some brothers” before the city authorities, they claim that this group of Christians have “upset the world” and claimed there is rival King – Jesus. I know we “live between the times” and it's sometimes hard to see, but these accusations are Easter realities. As followers of Jesus, we do mean to upset the world, not with rebellions and force, but with the world-upsetting Good News that Jesus is LORD and Saviour. And while the world has acclimated to those titles, “LORD and Saviour” when I say LORD, I also mean King. Jesus is our true King, the one we follow regardless of our earthly governments. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced, these accusations are Easter realities.
So, as you reflect on this passage and keep living out this world-upsetting Good News, smile when you face opposition for your faith. We are people of another kingdom, giving our devotion to another King. King Jesus.