Rome, Roads, Good News
Acts 1:8 – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of th earth.
Humanly speaking, the future is unknowable. Who knew two years ago what the global impact of COVID-19 would be?
Israel is the most vaccinated country, percentage-wise, in the world. The borders have been closed to outsiders almost all of the last two years. As of this writing, we are preparing to lead a group on a fifteen-day exploration of Israel. The obstacles to entering the country are many. Our group will fly from San Antonio to Houston to connect to Newark, where we will finally, Lord willing, board our plane to Tel Aviv.
“Lord willing?” It is so easy to say. So hard to live by.
In 63 B.C., Judea was conquered by Rome. Like Greece earlier, the rulers in Rome wanted to extend their influence around the known world. The Roman general Pompey laid siege to Jerusalem, took the city, and profaned the Temple. Later he appointed a High Priest that Rome could control.
As region after region fell to Roman soldiers, Roman slaves built roads to connect the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire with its capital. The expansive network of roads enabled armies to move quickly in response to rebellions and lawlessness. Ruling with an iron fist, Roman peace (Pax Romana) was the law of the land. The roads built throughout Judea were well known by Jesus and His friends. Mary and Joseph likely used portions of this network on their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem preceding Jesus’ birth. Upon hearing of Herod’s plan to kill their son, the Via Maris (Way of the Sea) was likely the path of their flight into Egypt. When Herod was dead and no longer a threat, Joseph led his family back to Nazareth using Rome’s roads.
Most of the Jewish people in Israel during the days Jesus and His disciples lived matter of factly with the costs and benefits of Roman rule. One of the benefits of the road system built by Rome was that the Good News of the Gospel made its way to Rome by those willing to make the journey. Like it is for our group headed to Israel now, there were obstacles and dangers along the way. Who knew what could happen? Worry did not stop those willing to tell the story of the Bible to those who need to hear it beyond the border of Israel.
Still waiting for the results of COVID tests; we are trying to keep warm in the house without power during a cold snap, looking at the power bar on my computer to complete this post. These are “small potatoes” when considering the travel difficulties experienced by Jesus and His friends. I owe everything to the Lord for empowering and enabling the men and women who knew Jesus personally to take the Gospel from Jerusalem, into Judea and Samaria to the rest of the world.
What road does Jesus have you on right now? Thinking about it, my little group is taking the Gospel back to where it all began. I’m confident it’s worth the trouble. Are you?
New Testament Lessons
- Israel did not remain free for very long. In 63 B.C., General Pompey laid siege to Jerusalem.
- The hand sign for this lesson begins with a Roman salute, a fisted right hand placed over the heart.
- The Emperor extended Rome’s authority to conquered territories via an extensive network of roads. Roman legions marched quickly from place to place. News of the realm moved as fast as a horse could run. You might consider Rome’s ancient highways as the internet 2,000 years ago.
- The roads that Rome built provided connections to the great and small cities of the Roman Empire, places where the Good News of the Gospel would travel to Roman citizens everywhere.
- Consider the different road trips you have taken. How did you navigate from place to place? What plans did you make before the trip and what were your stopping points along the way?
- After Pentecost, the story of Jesus and His friends spread from Jerusalem to all Judea and Samaria, and to the rest of the world. Who brought the Good News to you and what roads did they travel to your life?
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