Monday 18th May
The location of Ephesus is an archaeological and tourist treasure, but if it were not for Paul and Luke’s account here in Acts 19 we would never have heard of Demetrius of Ephesus and the riot he led that filled an amphitheatre. One can only imagine in the most tribal of modern football stadia – post lockdown of course – a chant like theirs “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” It would have been loud, as the amphitheatre in Ephesus had the same capacity as the DW stadium!
Yet these people were not chanting and up in arms because of a religious affront to their worship of the goddess, Artemis, but by a challenge to the economics of their livelihoods which relied on visitors to the temple buying what they sold. Change was happening and the silversmiths were not happy with losing their financial security.
Paul spent five years in Ephesus, connecting and teaching every day. Many came to faith. Commitment, building of relationships, teaching, serving, brought him and those who became followers of Jesus into close and authentic contact with ordinary people. Their witness and the promise of the hope and the freedom that Jesus offers had begun to seriously change the culture of the city.
The grievance of the mob in Ephesus is something that resonates down the ages because we know that wherever the gospel is preached – and heard, it will change those whose lives are focused on idols as the temple-goers were.
Just as true today, the Gospel challenges the love of the idols of this time, it challenges those who would profit from them, and therefore challenges the very culture of this age.
Paul’s solution was ageless. All he did was to offer the way, the truth and the life of Jesus and encourage the Christians of Ephesus to share with and serve the people. More and more came to faith, and less and less were tied to the old that bound them.
The primary cause of the rebellion in Ephesus was that the gospel had changed lives and shaken the status quo. We pray for Church Wigan and for the people of God in this place to be a growing movement and influence, like Paul and the Ephesian Christians, effecting culture change as more and more people come to faith in Jesus.
We pray that the love of God is understood increasingly and that in this Easter season we may be such a catalyst and a witness to all that Jesus is doing, that it becomes impossible to not know that Jesus is alive and at work in this place.
Reflection by Jeremy Thomas