Year 2 Day 148
Read - Acts 28v1-10
Message - Scott Woodburn
By the grace of God, Paul and the rest of the passengers find themselves washed up on the island of Malta. It remains an attractive destination for holiday makers but for those who had just been shipwrecked it was a refuge and solid ground.
Paul and his companions were cold and wet but the kind Maltese people soon kindled a fire to warm their unexpected guests. Things couldn’t have been more traumatic for the Apostle and yet before he has dried out, a viper responds to the heat and bites Paul’s hand (v3).
For the Maltese this was a sure sign that Paul was a wicked man. He may have escaped a shipwreck but “Justice” wasn’t going to allow him to live (v4). The Greeks believed “Justice” to be the daughter of Zeus and Themis. She was obviously directing this whole event and therefore Paul would soon die (v6).
Yet Paul didn’t swell up or suddenly fall down dead. He shook the viper from his hand into the fire and suffered no ill effects (v5). Later he healed the father of Publius (v8) and soon people from all over the island visited Paul and their diseases were cured (v9). Was Paul a god like the Maltese believed (v6)? No. He was an Apostle, able to heal those on the island, but notice he wasn’t immune from shipwrecks, snake bites or even physical ailments (Galatians 4v13-15 & 6v11).
At every step of his journey Paul knew tremendous difficulty. He would outline his troubles in 2 Corinthians 11 and perhaps when we read his account we might agree with the Maltese - it seems that Paul was under judgement. What other explanation could account for his constant troubles?
The Christian understands that we do not live under the judgement and wrath of God. We have received Christ by faith and therefore God’s wrath no longer abides upon us. We do not worship a bitter and spiteful God who sends shipwrecks to harm us. Instead we realise that in this world we will have trouble just as Christ told us (John 16v33). In this fallen world difficulties trouble both the righteous and the wicked (Matthew 5v45). Additionally, sometimes, God disciplines us because He loves us (Hebrews 12v6).
So how do we respond to shipwrecks and snake bites? The Apostle urges us to consider Jesus in such moments. “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12v3) As we consider Christ we remember that He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He suffered more than we can possibly comprehend and yet all without sin.
When you walk from a shipwreck straight into a snake bite do not give up. You will know hard and difficult days but the Lord will strengthen you to endure and He will ensure you cross the finish line. Wounded and sore child of God, He is for you, do not give up and above all, consider Jesus.
Q36 What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification? The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.