Year 2 Day 78
Read - Acts 21v1-16
Message - Scott Woodburn
In the image I paint of myself in my head, I'm an incredibly brave man. If a building was burning I'd run into it. If a dog was drowning I'd jump into the water. If a store was being robbed I'd stand against the robbers. But would I really? Really, really? I'm not so sure. Usually our imagined self-image doesn't match the reality.
In today's passage we realise the incredible strength and bravery of Paul. He is travelling to Jerusalem and finds himself in the house of Philip the evangelist in Caesarea (v8). Philip is one of the seven chosen back in Acts 6 and is called the evangelist due to his exploits in Acts 8. Paul stays with Philip for several days and soon receives a visit from the prophet Agabus (v10).
Agabus doesn't bring good news. He takes Paul's belt and ties it around his own hands and feet and then he declares "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" (v11). If Paul continued to Jerusalem he would, at the very least, be arrested.
Immediately those with him urged him not to go to Jerusalem (v12). Why would he walk into such a dangerous situation? They loved and cared for Paul and so they beseeched him to stay far away from Jerusalem. His answer was amazing. "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." (v13).
Paul didn't have a death wish and despite the clear danger in Jerusalem he was not acting like a fool. Instead the Apostle was utterly convinced about the goodness of God. We would see this in his letter to the Philippians to whom he famously declared "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1v21) If the Lord was to give Paul a long life then he would use it serving Christ in the church. Yet if the Lord was to call Paul home he looked forward to being with Christ which was and is better by far. Paul couldn't be persuaded and so his friends responded "Let the will of the Lord be done." (v14).
Brothers and sisters, in this life we have no guarantees. Some Christians never seem to know dark clouds and others know only storms - there doesn't seem to be rhyme or reason. There are moments that it seems the Lord has totally forsaken us and has closed His ear to our prayers. Yet the Word says that there is rhyme and reason and that the Lord will never forsake His people. Indeed "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8v28)
I suspect when push comes to shove I'm not terribly brave and not the superhero of my imagination. But I pray for myself and for you that when the dark storm of suffering blows in we'll be able to say "Let the will of the Lord be done."
Q83 Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous? Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.