Ananias, the current High Priest had hired an attorney named Tertullus to bring charges against Paul for inciting riots, defiling the temple and preaching blasphemy. Captive to beliefs he’d held for his entire life, Ananias had never critically examined those beliefs in light of recently revealed truth, truth that could possibly reshape what he’d originally thought. Since he was a boy, he’d waited and hoped for Messiah to come and deliver the Jews from the oppression and cruelty of the Romans. If Messiah did come while he was still High Priest, he expected to be set into the highest place of honor and power. His whole life, career and destiny remained hostage to the visions of grandeur spawned by the traditions he’d grown up with. And now, how dare this Pharisee-turned-zealot (Saul of Tarsus) suggest that Messiah had actually already come; that He died and rose from the dead. That all his traditions were wrong; that Messiah left the Romans in power, and His people, the Jews were still crushed under those Roman thumbs.
Self-righteous and self-assured is a dangerous place to be. There’s often (maybe always?) far more going on than what we’re able to see. Too often things that sound spiritual and true, are not. When Paul was converted and now shared his story and experience regarding that conversion (earlier in Acts 22), Ananias should have become like the Bereans, searching the Scriptures, instead of standing on tradition, to see whether what Paul was saying was true. He wasn’t willing to examine his own perspective; to challenge his own thinking. Instead, he resorted to self-protecting and self-promoting.
What Ananias couldn’t comprehend was that Messiah’s Kingdom wasn’t a physical kingdom where Jews would rule Gentiles. Where there was no hierarchy and one people would rule all others. A Kingdom where women and men were equal in God’s sight. A Kingdom in which all people from every tribe and nation were welcome. A Rule where Messiah demonstrated His power by giving Himself away. Where instead He empowered every Kingdom resident through His Own indwelling Spirit. It’s where I want to live.