Egyptian stone carving during the reign of King Amenhotep III (14th century B.C.), showing person with polio
Egyptian stone carving during the reign of King Amenhotep III (14th century B.C.), showing person with polio

Daily Reform, Day 82

Galatians 2:7-8 & Acts 1:6-11

From the Reformer

What does Paul mean by saying that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto him, and that of the circumcision to Peter? Did not Paul preach to the Jews, while Peter preached to the Gentiles also? Peter converted the Centurion. Paul’s custom was to enter into the synagogues of the Jews, there to preach the Gospel. Why then should he call himself the apostle of the Gentiles, while he calls Peter the apostle of the circumcision?

Paul refers to the fact that the other apostles remained in Jerusalem until the destruction of the city became imminent. But Paul was especially called the apostle of the Gentiles. Even before the destruction of Jerusalem Jews dwelt here and there in the cities of the Gentiles. Coming to a city, Paul customarily entered the synagogues of the Jews and first brought to them as the children of the kingdom, the glad tidings that the promises made unto the fathers were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. When the Jews refused to hear these glad tidings, Paul turned to the Gentiles. He was the apostle of the Gentiles in a special sense, as Peter was the apostle of the Jews.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

The natural thing to do, when one becomes committed to Christ, is to tell family and friends. Sadly, all too often the message is rejected. (Luke 4:24) However, the sharing of good news must not end with family and friends. If it is truly good news, it has to be shared with the world.

Any elementary school student is likely to be familiar with a photograph of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a wheelchair. What they may not know is that it was the disease named polio (poliomyelitis) that crippled him. Polio is an ancient disease, going back to the pharaohs of Egypt. It atrophied limbs and lungs and killed children by the thousands in the US each year. In 1952 Jonas Salk created a vaccine against the disease and in 1957 Sabin created an oral form of the vaccine, making it easy to dispense. By 1962 it was approved for use. Of course, most Americans today know little about polio which attests to the vaccine’s effectiveness.

The good news of a polio vaccine might have been kept in the US for people “like us.” However, in 1980, Rotary (a service club) began a project to inoculate everyone against the dreaded polio. At the date of writing this devotional, there were only four countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria) where polio may still be found. It has been eradicated from all the other countries of the world, largely because one service club determined to share this good news with the entire world.

One wonders at how the Church has failed. Rotary has taken the polio vaccine to the remotest parts of the earth. For that matter, Coca Cola has taken a soft drink into virtually every country in the world — even those countries where the Gospel is banned. Coca-Cola is determined. Rotary is determined. The Apostle Paul was determined. We must also be determined to take the good news of a Risen Savior beyond the circles of our friends and family, beyond our own shores, even as Jesus said, “to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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