In the first reading today we see the church continuing to spread. Paul goes to Perga and addresses the men of Israel. Note how Paul first goes to the Jewish people and explains to them from the Old Testament how Jesus was prophesied to be born of David and how he was the continuation of his work.
The Jews knew the Old Testament and were expecting the messiah. The problem Paul encounters is that a lot of the people were awaiting a military messiah who would restore the kingdom of David.
A criminal dying on the cross was hardly what they expected.
Paul preached that the real bondage of the people of Israel was sin which led to death and that Jesus by dying and rising had done a lot more than overcome the Romans: he had overcome death itself.
For all people in all times, death is the great leveler. Under the Roman empire life was very cheap and death was a constant hanging over the people. Medicine as such did not exist and disease and sickness was rife.
For us today for whom death is a very sanitized thing and is delayed by all sorts of medicine etc, death is often put to the back of our minds.
But death comes to all and Jesus, by rising, proved that death is not the end. This is a message of great news, far better than any earthly kingdom could give. All Paul had to do was to get people to see past the things of this world and look "longer term."
But not as easy as it seems. We all think of the here and now and suffer from the 'what is in this for me,' syndrome.
We want our kingdom today, who wants to wait!