Sermon Acts 16 III
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
Dearly loved people of God,
After all the riots, beatings, and earthquakes were over, Paul and Silas spoke the Word of the Lord to the jailer and everyone else in the house.
Several days earlier the fortune teller revealed what Paul and Silas were able to tell: the spirit in her revealed that these were servants of the Most High God, telling the way to be saved.
The way to be saved is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. These servants take up Jesus’ message of release for the captives.
Even with the manacles still on their wrists, Paul and Silas speak of the power of God. The earthquake that broke the doors and released the chains was only a hint of the power of God to save people. The Most High God welcomes sinful people to be released from chains of anger, brutality, greed, and hatred.
But why would a jailer listen to these prisoners. Every prisoner has a story they want to tell – why would the jailer listen to them? They don’t look like God’s servants – they’re still all bruised and bloody from the beating in the marketplace. They’ve been accused of teaching customs unlawful for Romans. Why would the jailer listen to these preachers?
Well, Paul and Silas were God’s servants. The fortune-telling girl was correct. Even though the spirit was trying to gain the upper hand by calling out Paul and Silas – as many demons did with Jesus during his ministry – it stirred up trouble, but wasn’t possible to derail them from their task as God’s missionaries.
In the power and authority of Jesus Christ, they saved the girl from the evil spirit. We don’t know if she became a believer, but any life is better without the influence of an evil spirit giving hints and glimpses of the future.
But the gospel created conflict. This girl was released from the power of the evil spirit, but her owners weren’t pleased. They were making some good money with her. This gospel pinched their passion for money and insulted their identity as Romans – having these two wandering Jews come and disturb the customs and way of life in their Roman town!
Being offended, they threw everything they could at God’s servants – insults, accusations, beatings, jail. That’s the image we often find in Sunday School papers – Paul and Silas in jail, in the stocks.
Yet their groans give way to prayers and their prayers become songs – displaying love for God and confidence that their Lord sees them and cares for them. They have confidence that nothing will separate them from the love of God in Jesus their Lord. That confidence makes others sit up and listen – first the other prisoners.
That night though, the jailer also went from life to death. When he saw the busted up prison, he was sure he was a dead man. He’d been told to keep these prisoners safe. So he was determined to end things in the proud Roman way – he’d fall on his own sword. But Paul stopped him. The servant of the Most High God spoke a word that saved his life.
In the midst of death and destruction, Paul brought words of life: words that shaped his life and confidence, words that bring great joy. It is not only the jailer who has responded to these words of life.
We are gathered today to worship God. As part of our worship, Nathan Bootsma has also stood up and professed faith in the Most High God as the Lord who saved him.
Nate’s still a young man. Still figuring out who he is. Yet you’ve heard the Word of the Lord since you were a baby, since you were baptized.
Today you’re surrounded by the family, congregation, and friends who have shared the Word of the Lord with you.
You’ve been a believer for most of your life, lately God’s goodness and love have been really clear to you – God’s love and care for you and his amazing offer of salvation through Jesus.
I’ve gotten o know Nate a bit better in the past year. It’s neat how his face lights up when he talks about his faith. You can see the joy he has in Jesus. Today we share that joy.
Today, Nathan has responded to the promises God made in his baptism. When he was just a baby, God publicly said to everyone, “This is my child.” Today Nate has publicly agreed, “I am God’s child, adopted through Jesus, determined to live as a servant of God.”
But Nate, people of God – living as God’s servant is not always comfortable. We have great joy and comfort in belonging to Jesus, but life in a sin-stained world isn’t always comfortable. Professing faith in Christ creates tension.
I don’t mean the kind of tension we sometimes see of pride, disagreements, and even splits in the church. I mean the tension caused when believers are walking in step with the Spirit, following Jesus. Walking in step with the spirit can put you out of step with the culture and customs and community you live in. Eventually you end up stepping on someone’s toes.
When Paul saved the slave girl from the evil spirit in Jesus’ name, that made the conflict come to the front – the gospel interrupted the economics, the customs, and the pride of the people of Philippi. It does the same in St. Catharines, ON.
Our salvation through Jesus turns everything on its head. We gain citizenship in the kingdom: a kingdom in which jailers wash the bloody welts and bruises of prisoners – and in turn are washed in the blood of Jesus.
You also have been saved by Jesus Christ