Not finding [Paul and Silas, the mob] dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. "Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world," they shouted, "and now they are here disturbing our city, too. And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus."
— Acts 17:6-7 NLT
Jason and his family were some of the first believers in Thessalonica. When the jealous Jewish troublemakers and their riotous crowd couldn't find Paul and Silas, they seized Jason and those close to him. The two charges were:
- These Christians who had "caused trouble all over the world" — or as more famously phrased, "have been turning the world upside down" (Acts 17:6 NRSV) — were "disturbing" Thessalonica's peace, too.
- These believers in Jesus were "guilty of treason against Caesar" because they expressed their loyalty to Jesus alone as Lord and King.
Both charges were serious in the eyes of the Romans. The riotous mob, described in different translations as "troublemakers," "ruffians," and "wicked men," was incited by the Jewish leaders (Acts 17:5) and ensured that Paul and the mission team would have to leave, at least for a while. Leaving these new disciples grieved Paul. He used deeply emotional language to describe his pain caused by this separation. Over time, Paul's feelings for both the Thessalonians and the Philippians grew into a deeper affection, and they developed a partnership. Paul's letters, along with the emotional language used in them for these Macedonian believers, and his repeated visits made these Macedonian Christians some of the closest friends he had in churches.* For me, the essential message I must hear today is clear: Persecution, hardship, and hostility cannot derail the unstoppable message of Christ and the love we have for his people!
O Father, draw my heart to your children in other places, especially places where your sons and daughters face persecution and hardship. When I travel, help me connect to my brothers and sisters, and use the Holy Spirit to help our hearts resonate with affection for each other. I recognize that you have adopted every disciple of Jesus into your family as your precious child. Use me to affirm our relationship in Christ and demonstrate your love to them as my brothers and sisters. I ask this in Jesus' powerful, yet tender, love. Amen.