The men who escorted Paul brought him to Athens. (Acts 17:15)
Visiting new and unfamiliar places can be an overwhelming experience, especially if the place is a big, traffic-troubled city. In “Catcher in the Rye,” J.D. Salinger tells about the 48-hour stay of a teen-age youth, Holden Caulfield, in New York City after he had flunked out of prep school in Pennsylvania. The lad was fairly overcome by the complex and perplexing circumstances of the city.
During his second missionary journey Saint Paul came to Athens, the historic capital city of Greece. He was no doubt impressed, but he was not overwhelmed; rather he was determined to preach the Gospel of Christ in this center of human wisdom and enterprise.
To acquaint himself with the city, the apostle toured Athens, making mental notes of what he saw. This is how he introduced his address on Mars Hill: “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23). He then proceeded to speak of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Judge whom God raised from the dead.
To us strange cities need not be overwhelming. God is there, the same as He is everywhere else. While sin abounds, God’s grace abounds much more. This grace is ours in Jesus Christ, who once suffered in a city, was crucified outside the city walls, and rose again from the dead to save us.
PRAYER: God of all grace and mercy, keep us from being overwhelmed by the works of man that we may the more appreciate Your mighty works. Amen.
(Taken from “Our Journey with Jesus,” (out of print), copyright 1976, International Lutheran Laymen’s League.)
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