“Finally, the town clerk got the mob quieted down and said, ‘Fellow citizens, is there anyone anywhere that doesn’t know that our dear city Ephesus is protector of glorious Artemis and her sacred stone image that fell straight out of heaven? Since this is beyond contradiction, you had better get hold of yourselves. This is conduct unworthy of Artemis. These men you have dragged here have done nothing to harm either our temple or our goddess.

“So, if Demetrius and his guild of artisans have a complaint, they can take it to court and make all the accusations they want. If anything else is bothering you, bring it to the regularly scheduled town meeting and let it be settled there. There is no excuse for what’s happened today. We’re putting our city in serious danger. Rome, remember, does not look kindly on rioters.’ With that he sent them home.” Acts 19:35-41 (The Message).

Good for you, town clerk! At least one person was thinking straight!

Was his speech tongue-in-cheek or did he really believe what he was saying? Any sober-minded person would realise that what these Ephesians believed was a lot of nonsense. But, you might ask, what’s the difference between the stone image of Artemis falling out of the sky and Jesus, the Son of God, being sent into the world by the Father? Isn’t it the same thing?

At face value it could be but for one major difference — proof! Long before it ever happened, God had foretold the events of Jesus’ coming. His prophets, over many centuries, wrote about the promised Messiah in such detail that it could never have been a hoax. Jesus was sent by the Father, became one of us, lived, acted and spoke as the perfect representative of the Father, was killed and rose from the dead with more than enough proof that He was who he said He was.

What about Artemis? If her image fell from the sky, what was the purpose of it? Did she come to rescue the human race from sin and death and restore us to fellowship with a holy and loving God? What was the fruit of the lives of those who worshipped her? If this mob was anything to go by, nothing wholesome or attractive! If she was the glorious goddess she was supposed to be, why did she need protection, anyway?

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” so the saying goes. As we have navigated the Book of Acts, a picture is emerging that we can see clearly, if we choose to. The Holy Spirit came upon the church, as Jesus had promised, on the day of Pentecost, giving the believers power to live and bear witness to lives changed from within. Peter, for example, a self-assured “motor-mouth”, became a humble witness to the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

The other fearful and cowering disciples, hiding behind closed doors, were transformed into bold and fearless preachers of the message of the risen Lord. Saul, the Pharisee and ruthless persecutor of the church, became the Apostle Paul, traversing land and sea to tell the story of Jesus no matter what the cost.

Across the Roman Empire lives were being changed, one by one, because Jesus came from the Father, to reveal the Father and to reconcile us to the Father through His death and resurrection. No stone image falling from the sky could accomplish that! If that was the best lie Satan could produce to counterfeit the work of Jesus, it was a pathetic hoax!

Luella Campbell

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