Paul has arrived in Rome, just as Jesus told him he would. The journey there was a bit rocky, but he was safe. His ministry in Rome is now underway. I am always amazed at how news traveled in those days. The phone hadn’t been invented yet, and certainly, there was no email or texting. Yet believers knew and came to welcome and encourage Paul.
Who have you welcomed or encouraged today?
We know that Paul is still under the protection of the Roman guard, having survived a shipwreck and other challenges. He mentions wearing a chain. It seems like this is the first time I remember hearing him talk of a chain. I wonder if it’s a “real” chain or if he is using that as a metaphor to describe his lack of freedom. He has been under guard, yet he now has his own private lodging.
What chains are holding you back today?
I’m not going to get lost in the details, but I do like to put myself in the story to make it come alive. When I do that, I often feel more connected and new truths are revealed. When you read these accounts, do you ever transport yourself into that time and place? Feel free to share in the comments.
I loved how open-minded the Roman Jews seemed to be. Paul wanted a private audience with them to test the waters it seems. They seemed interested in learning more about why Paul felt he needed to appeal to Caesar. They wanted to hear first hand about this movement that was being “denounced everywhere.” I wish I could run into a group of eager, interested folks that were open to hearing more about the Gospel. Don’t we all wish for a captive audience?
The words of Isaiah that Paul used (vv. 26-27) still ring true today, don’t you think? Isaiah’s prophecy seems to be timeless. We live in an age where people have hardened hearts, closed minds, and ears that can’t hear. We all know people who are far from God for one reason or another. These are folks who don’t begin to understand how much God loves them. God yearns for a relationship with each one of us. Why do we turn our back?
For some, it is because they have not heard. For others, it is because they have been hurt and blame God. For others, they are just too busy living their life, and they forget who created them. In all cases, it’s tragic. These people are missing out on a joy that has no measure. They are still loved by God as much as those who follow, they just don’t know it. That’s a tragedy for sure.
So what can we do about it? We can open our mouths and tell others about our loving God. We can serve others as Jesus taught. We can love each other. We can stop being judgmental and leave that up to God. We can deepen our own relationship with Jesus to fuel all of the above.
This is our last reading from Acts, and I love how it ends. “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” We should take the baton here from Paul. We need to be bold. We need to proclaim the truth of God’s love. Faith in Jesus sets us free!
Let’s pray. Lord, I am moved today with a desire to serve you and share your love with others. Take away my fears and replace them with boldness. You have given me a beautiful life of experiences and wisdom I can surely pass on to others. Prepare the hearts of those I am to encounter today so that my words will break through their walls. Give me the words to say and prompt me when the time is right. Thank you for your many blessings. In Jesus’ name. Amen.