The Right Introduction
When a mob has just tried to tear you apart and you still have the audacity to try and defend yourself with words, you’ve got to get your introduction right. More than three hundred years before Jesus, Aristotle in his notes on Rhetoric spelled out what needed to happen when a defendant begins to speak. They must “clear away any obstacles” and “remove any prejudice felt against him.” To have any chance the speaker has got to “win his audience’s goodwill.”
When Paul raised his hand and silenced the crowd from the steps of the Antonio Fortress, he was speaking to an angry crowd. He had to get it right and his defense reveals that he not only knows Jewish law, but he also knows what Aristotle said must be done in your introduction.
“’Men, brothers, fathers, now hear my defense before you.’ When they heard that he was calling out to them in the Hebrew language, they became very quiet. ‘I’m a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I was thoroughly trained at the feet of Gamaliel in the law of our fathers, zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, binding them and putting both men and women in prison. The High Priest and all the council can verify all this. In fact I received a letter from them and was traveling to Damascus intending to bring followers of Jesus there as prisoners to Jerusalem so that they might be punished.’” Acts 22:1-5
Paul addresses the crowd like family, uses their heart language dialect, and reminds them that he’s a Jerusalem trained boy, their poster child, and when it came to being zealous for God and throwing followers of the Jesus Way in jail, he was number one.
Paul got his introduction right, and I need to learn from his example. He knew where he was and the audiences he was addressing. As a preacher, there’ve been times when I’ve treated a business audience or students in a classroom like I was speaking to my church on Sunday morning. Because I forgot where I was and who I was speaking to, I blew these opportunities to connect. It was my fault, but as we will discover next week as we listen to the rest of Paul’s defense, he will discover that he did everything right in his delivery but still got rejected during the close.
LORD, help me to learn from mistakes in the past when I not only got the introduction wrong, I also blew the body and the close. Help me to keep learning from skilled communicators like Paul, and gifted public speakers today. Help me realize that even if everything is right, I may be rejected at the close, but I still need to tell your truth.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!