Acts: On the Way to Jerusalem

Read: Acts 21:1-16

Luke provides a dramatic story of their journey from Miletus to Jerusalem. He begins by enunciating the emotional departure from the Elders as they began their journey through several cities. They stayed in Tyre for a week and ministered to the church in this challenging city. As the story unfolds, I’m swept away by the depth of the bond these people had for Paul, those who were disciples, and for the young Church.  How I long for this sense of deep connection in the Church today. Take a look and see the highlights Luke provides for us.

Tyre for a Week

Luke writes himself into this story, he is with them on the journey as they sail to the metropolis of Tyre, the huge port city. Tyre has a significant history in the Bible. Notable names like Joshua, David, Solomon, Nehemiah, to name a few, come from the Old Testament. Jesus traveled there as well and many from Tyre witnessed His teaching and miracles. Suffice it to say, it was an important city.

We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. Acts 21:4-5

In my imagination, the video switches to slow motion as the group leaves. Men, women, and children all walking out with Paul and his team. The music is melancholy. There is a heaviness about this visit that is unexplainable except to say they knew in their hearts this was Paul’s last visit. And they cared.

Maybe it’s just me or perhaps you feel the same longing for a community of faith that is this close. Lord, help us to be a people that are moved by this story. Show us how we can become people that love You with all our heart and love our neighbors as well. Make this the new normal.

Agabus the Prophet

From Tyre they traveled to Ptolemais then to Philip’s house (one of the Seven) in Caesarea where Agabus had a message to deliver.

Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” Acts 21:11

This is the second time on this journey that Paul has been warned to stay away from Jerusalem. His response is a testimony to his desire to follow Christ, no matter what.

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:13-14

As I’m typing this post, I received an email from The Voice of the Martyrs with the subject: How You Can Pray for and Help 10,000 Displaced Christians. I’m reminded that Paul’s example of obedience is repeated by many throughout the world today. We have many brothers and sisters who have found themselves in danger for the sake of the Gospel.

This is not a plea to go and look for trouble. Far from it. It is, however, a recognition that this is a very real possibility in our world today. One of the initial questions in Multiply asks what it might cost you to become a disciple of Christ. Paul knew the answer. How about you?

The early disciples risked much to pursue their faith in Jesus. As I sit in my home to reflect on this passage I have to wonder if I’m a bit too comfortable. As I said above, I don’t think Jesus is calling us to look for problems, but I’m pretty sure He didn’t call us to sit in rocking chairs and be content in our own private little worlds.

Lord, help me to see that which is right in front of me and move me to action. Stir in my heart that which stirs Yours. Do not allow me to be content and complacent. Light the fire that is the beacon of hope for the lost, the least, and the lonely.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

2 Replies to “Acts: On the Way to Jerusalem”

  1. It’s very interesting here to see how set on going to Jerusalem Paul was. Twice he was warned…not simply by people, but by the Holy Spirit (through prophets and prophetesses) not to go to Jerusalem. We see several times earlier in Acts where Paul was kept from going certain places by the Spirit and he obeyed. Why was this time different? Had Paul received commands otherwise and what we see is the Spirit testing his obedience…his heart to the word? Or, was Paul so set in his heart…he obviously did not fear death or the Jews by this point. God clearly works all things to the good. Did Paul’s destiny lie in Rome? Could he have gotten there a different way? Was this God’s warning or testing? Just some wanderings on my part!

  2. Appreciate your “wanderings” Ben, good thoughts. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. As Luke put the story together, he knew how it ended, but he wrote it to challenge us in the present, while we’re doing life and when we don’t know if this is a challenge, test, or warning. Deep inside we have to have hear the True voice. How can we know if we have not studied? What chance do we have at discerning which path to take if we aren’t wrestling with these thoughts? This is one good reason not to walk alone. By myself I can conjure up all kinds of reasons, but within a fellowship of Christ followers who are committed to hearing His voice, I believe we have a much better chance at making the right choice, of knowing if it’s a warning or test. Thanks for coming alongside me on this journey.

    Note: I mentioned this in the post, but it was a bit surreal to get the email notification from the Voice of the Martyrs while I was literally contemplating Paul’s words, “…but also to die…”

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