Monday September 26th, 2016
Note from Jesus
Paul's path to Rome was difficult. First, he faced a series of legal hearings before he even left for Rome. Then, he faced the challenging sea journey to Rome, a journey filled with adventure, hardship, danger, and influence.
Paul's legal proceedings began when he appeared before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council (Acts 23:1-11). Years earlier the people on this council condemned Me to death.
Paul was later transferred to Caesarea to protect him from a plot to kill him (Acts 23:12-35). There he appeared before the governor, Felix, and was accused by the high priest and others, and there Paul gave his personal testimony (Acts 24:1-27). After two years of waiting, a new governor named Porcius Festus came to power. Paul also appeared before him. When Festus considered sending Paul back to be tried in Jerusalem, Paul appealed to have his case heard before Caesar in Rome. Paul's appeal was granted (Acts 25:1-12). When King Agrippa arrived to pay respects to Festus, Paul then appeared before Agrippa and gave his personal testimony to him and his wife Bernice (Acts 25:13-27; Acts 26:1-32).
The stonewalling delays of the political rulers may seem to have been a waste of time. However, Paul was actually doing exactly what I had told Ananias that Paul would do when I sent him to lead Paul to become My disciple:
"I have chosen him to be My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well. I have much to show him, including how much he must suffer for My name."Paul was able to tell My good news before people to whom he would never have had access without his legal hearings. Paul exposed these influential people to My story. He shared the good news and challenged them to accept My salvation by turning their lives around and receiving My grace.
Paul had to endure suffering, but he wasn't afraid of that. He was determined to fulfill his mission for Me (Acts 20:24). That is precisely what he did. I kept my promise to get him to Rome (Acts 23:11). The trip was eventful, dangerous, and full of adventure. But even in this sea trip to Rome, I used Paul to bless others as he shared My message of grace both in word and in action.
Verses to Live
The date was set for us to depart for Rome, and Paul and some other prisoners were transferred to the custody of a Roman officer named Julius, a member of the Augustan Division. I, Luke, was permitted to join Paul for his journey to Rome, along with Aristarchus, a Macedonian brother from Thessalonica. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium...
Sailing conditions were adverse to say the least. Finally we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea on the south coast of Crete. We had lost a lot of time already — it was late in the year for sailing — following the Day of Atonement, and conditions had deteriorated from adverse to dangerous. Paul tried to warn those in charge.
Paul:Sirs, if we proceed, I can see that our voyage will be dangerous and will involve heavy loss, not only of cargo, but of the ship itself; not only of the ship, but also of our lives.But the officer ignored Paul and instead trusted the ship's pilot and owner who felt they could proceed.
One day a moderate south wind began to blow, which made an attempt [at sailing west up the coast] possible. We weighed anchor and sailed west, staying near shore. Then things got scary. A violent northeaster, the Euraquilo, blew down across Crete. We were caught. We couldn't turn and sail into this fierce wind, so we had no choice but to let it drive us.
Imagine what happened: It's the 14th night of our nightmare voyage; we're being driven by the storm somewhere in the Adriatic Sea. It's about midnight, and the sailors are taking soundings, fearing we might run aground. "Twenty fathoms," somebody calls out in the darkness, then a little later, "Fifteen fathoms." We're nearing land! But hope quickly gives way to a new fear. At any moment in this darkness, they realize, we could be smashed onto unseen rocks. So they drop four anchors from the stern and pray for first light.
We wait. Just before dawn, Paul again gathers everyone on the ship — all 276 of us. He urges everyone to eat and encourages us not to lose hope.
Paul:Listen, men, we've all been under incredible stress for 14 days. You haven't eaten anything during this whole time. I urge you to take some food now because it will help you survive what we're about to face. And I want to assure you — not one of you will lose a single hair from your head. We're all going to make it — all 276 of us!Then Paul takes a loaf of bread and gives thanks to God in front of all of them. He breaks it, takes a piece, and begins to eat. A fresh surge of courage seems to fill their hearts as they also begin to eat. After satisfying their hunger, the crew lightens the ship by throwing the remaining wheat overboard. Day finally breaks. They survey the coastline and don't recognize it, but they do notice a bay with a beach — the best place to try to run ashore.
The soldiers start talking about killing the prisoners so they won't swim away and escape; but the officer wants to save Paul, so he stops them. He tells those who can swim to jump overboard and swim to the shore, and those who can't, he tells to hold on to planks and other pieces of the ship when it breaks apart. Some hours later, we reassemble on the beach, each one safe and sound.
We quickly learned that we were on the island of Malta. The Maltese people found us and were extraordinarily kind to us. They kindled a bonfire and welcomed us around it, which we greatly appreciated because it was raining and cold. Paul was gathering firewood and helping build the fire. A viper had been hiding in some of the wood, and as it tried to escape the heat, it bit Paul on the hand. It sank its fangs in and wouldn't let go. The natives saw it dangling from his hand.
Natives:This man must be a murderer. He escaped the sea, but now justice has caught up with him.Paul simply shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no harm. The natives knew what to expect — rapid swelling followed by death — but when they waited a long time and saw that Paul suffered no ill effects of the bite, they changed their minds and concluded that he was a god.
The leading man of the island, Publius, owned large amounts of land near this beach. Publius received us and hosted us for three days. Publius's father was sick, bedridden with fever and dysentery. Paul visited the invalid and prayed for him, placing his hands on Publius' father. The man was cured. Soon people from all over the island who had diseases came, and they were cured as well.
We stayed on Malta for the next three months and were treated with great honor. When spring arrived, we prepared to continue our journey on a ship that had wintered there — an Alexandrian vessel with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead. The Maltese people showed us a final kindness as we departed: they came with all the provisions we needed for our journey and put them on board.
(Acts 27:1-2; Acts 27:8-11; Acts 27:13-15; Acts 27:27-29; Acts 27:33-39; Acts 27:42-44; Acts 28:1-11)