JohnSWilson3 Blog

“And so we came to Rome.”
February 15, 2010, 1:53 am
Filed under: E Acts

“And so we came to Rome.” What an incredible journey! These few words to Luke probably had some force to them. Finally, they were in Rome, finally they had arrived to the destination that Paul knew that God had been leading him for many years. Again more brothers showed up as they “had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” How encouraging to see brothers following the life of Christ in them to offering their “bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” to go out of their way to travel all the way to the port to meet Paul and his companions. What love the brothers have for one another when living by the life of Jesus!

Luke, Aristarchus, and the rest of his companions arrive with Paul to Rome. “Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.” In Rome, Paul’s companions perhaps stayed with Phoebe and Priscilla and Aquila, whom Paul had sent to Rome to transplant another living expression of Jesus Christ in the city along with those who had returned from Pentecost when the early church was first formed. Or perhaps they paired up in other homes of the “fellow workers” or the other households that had left Ephesus with Phoebe and Priscilla and Aquila, such as Mary of Rome, the apostles Andronicus and Junias, or Urbanus, and other homes of the brothers and sisters. How they must have encouraged one another and praised God for answering their prayers which they had prayed to God for the rescue of Paul so that he might “come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.”

Paul was not slow in his habit of first sharing the gospel “first for the Jew” and “three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews.” Paul explained to “the leaders of the Jews” of the circumstances that led to his arrest and examination by the Roman governors concluding with “it is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” The leaders were unfamiliar with Paul’s case and because they had heard about “this sect” they wanted “to hear what” his “views are.” This curiosity of the Jews led to another meeting which they arranged with Paul. They “came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying.” God was setting the stage for the Jews, His chosen people of old, to hear the good news of the coming of the Messiah, to bring hope and peace and a new life that God had purposed in eternity past and had now brought about through Jesus Christ. “From morning tell evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” What an amazing time this must have been! The Holy Spirit was at work using the life of Paul, the spiritual authority that Christ was manifesting through Paul, to share Jesus the Messiah from the Old Testament scriptures, and some believed! But many “disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul” finally ended his message with the message of Isaiah the prophet:

” ‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’ ”

Paul concludes with “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

Luke concludes his letter with Paul staying “in his own rented house” “for two whole years” “and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” This final part of Luke’s letter sounds similar to Matthew’s gospel of Jesus Christ, which I am sure he must have read while visiting Judea, Galilee, and Samaria as he researched the life of Jesus for his own gospel of Jesus Christ he planned to write, and perhaps had a draft made already. Matthew concluded his gospel with Jesus words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Perhaps the similarity is that the ending is really a beginning. That the gospel of Jesus Christ only began at the end of Matthew and the multiplying of the expression of the living Christ through bodies of believers only began at the end of Acts. What an incredible journey God has called His people on! That we would be participants of His divine mission of expressing His life, a life of grace, hope, and love, to all that we meet, so that Christ would have a home, a body, in every city and groups of people on this earth! Would to God that the body of Christ would be a living expression of Jesus, where God would organically build His people to be His glorious bride, living a life that has Jesus as the Head, the Leader.

May the Body of Christ truly fulfill the mission of Christ by living by His life, a life of sincere love for one another, where their is devotion to knowing Christ and Him crucified, “to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” where “all the believers were together and had everything in common,” meeting together daily, breaking bread “from house to house” and eating “together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

Can churches who focus on organization and traditionalism or fundamentalism learn to focus on Jesus Christ, to guide God’s people to have a sincere devotion to Christ with one another instead of to a program or agenda or themselves?

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