JohnSWilson3 Blog

“So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”
February 14, 2010, 11:01 pm
Filed under: E Acts

After Paul gave his incredibly riveting testimony to Festus and King Agrippa and those in the audience room it is decided that Paul will be sent to Rome. It is unknown what Festus wrote reference “the charges against” Paul. Whatever he wrote I’m sure Festus would have liked nothing more than to get rid of Paul who was a nuisance to him politically if he stayed in Caesarea. But Paul knows, even from his letter to the Roman Christians that he knows “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” even when those things seem bleak and hopeless at first. Paul saw the moving of God’s hand in the events as they unraveled before him!

So Paul along with his companions, including Luke and “Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica,” “sail for Italy.” Aristarchus, a church planter that Paul trained in Ephesus, has been traveling with Paul for many years now. Aristarchus has lived the life of Christ together with Paul and his companions and has faced persecution with Paul, actually being “seized” by the rioters back in Ephesus. Aristarchus would be identified by Paul later in Rome as a “fellow prisoner” so it may be that Aristarchus was on the ship as a prisoner with Paul or while in Rome with Paul was put in prison with Paul, no doubt because of his witness for Jesus!

Paul is being held as a prisoner along with “some other prisoners” and “were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.” During the trip Paul is shown kindness by the centurion and after landing “at Sidon” was “allowed to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.” Paul was encouraged and praised God “if God is for us, who can be against us?!” His friends, I’m sure, were also encouraged by the opportunity to give aid and encouragement to there fellow brother in Christ!

Paul, his companions, the other prisoners, the centurion with his soldiers, and the ship’s sailors “put out to sea” and sail through rough waters. They are able to board another ship, this one sailing directly “for Italy.” Again sailing is difficult and Luke describes in detail their travels. Paul warns the centurion and the sailors about the disaster that is going to befall the ship if they continue, but because Paul is only a prisoner the centurion follows “the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.” The pilot and owner of the ship make a bad decision to try and “reach Phoenix (a harbor in Crete) and winter there.” But while enroute “a wind of hurricane force” sweeps “down from the island.” The ship gets caught in the storm and for two weeks is “driven across the Adriatic Sea” by the storm.

Paul some how feels the weight of the trials that the ship in the storm is causing for everyone on board. Even Luke describes that through the horrific storm that “we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” Through this crisis Paul comes as a shining light to all who are on the ship, manifesting the gracious life of Jesus Christ. An angel of God visits Paul and encourages Paul saying “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” With this word from God Paul stands “up before them” and encourages them “to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” May God’s people so live, allowing Christ to live through us, that we might have a definite word from God Himself to encourage others in desperate times!

Paul is now regarded as a man of God, a man whose very life has a spiritual authority that no natural man has ever seen before. Paul’s advice is regarded as having a true knowledge that can only come from God. The centurion is now following the advice of Paul instead of the pilot or owner of the ship who are no longer in the picture of this story. I guess when our lives are on the line and the very breath of our life could be taken away at any moment, those who are without Christ can have a tendency to look to the one who is spiritual, or who seems to have spiritual authority, a spiritual knowledge of God Himself to find a way out, instead of seeking God for himself. May we as His people guide people who are seeking after Christ, not to ourselves and our agendas, but to the Lord of glory! That’s what Paul did. He did not boast about himself but Christ alone.

Luke makes a point to mention in this story of how “Paul urged them to eat.” And in so doing expressed the wonderful love of Jesus to everyone on board. “For the last fourteen days…you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food – you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” Then Paul “took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.” Amazing! Paul is calm, he is confident about what God has told him. Paul’s faith is unwavering because he received a sure word from the Lord! As a result of the peace of God in his life in the midst of the storm “they were all encouraged and ate some food themselves” and they ate “as much as they wanted.”

After lightening the ship and waiting until daylight it runs “aground” near “a sandy beach.” Here is another moment of crisis, the ship is about to be “broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf” and the soldiers plan to kill all “the prisoners.” “But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.”

God was faithful to is word! I can only imagine what Paul thought as he saw God’s deliverance of everyone on board the ship. Surely he reflected on the words that he wrote to the churches God had raised up through the gospel he had preached. Maybe Paul was thinking about when he wrote to the church in Thessalonica: “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Perhaps he remembered what he wrote to the Corinthians how “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” and was reminded that Jesus had told him “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” God is faithful! Amen!

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