Acts 20: 22-35
“And now compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardship are facing me.”
The Book of Acts follows Paul, a Roman citizen, on three distinct missionary journeys along the Mediterranean Sea. Although the Roman Empire was at peace, travel posed many threats from pirates, armies and hostile peoples.
Before leaving for Jerusalem, in Paul’s farewell to the Ephesians, he says, “keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (20:28) Paul’s friends begged him not to go, but Paul had survived shipwrecks, a stoning, beatings and time in jail. He knew God wanted him to take his word to Rome and he was not afraid of the danger he might encounter in Jerusalem.
In his farewell speech he said to the elders, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”(20:35)
In these times of hardships that face the world, we face many threats to our well-being. Paul’s message guides us and reminds us that we are the shepherds of the church. We must help the weak and vulnerable and strive to give more of ourselves. Each of us has a gift(s) and during this time I look inward to how I might use this gift(s) to help others. Even small gestures to our family, friends, especially those who are vulnerable or in need, and our larger community, is the Holy Spirit guiding me to be a shepherd of the church.
Acts 20 shows Paul’s closeness to others. What could increase your closeness with others?
Judy Grandin, EfM, Year 3
Paul the Apostle exhibited extraordinary dedication and courage during his third and final mission trip. In Acts 20:23, Luke quotes Paul: “The Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.” Apparently, imprisonment or death awaited Paul in Jerusalem. Despite this, Paul was anxious to finish the missionary work that the Lord Jesus had called him to do.
Why return to such a dismal fate, one may wonder? In reflection I realize that he must have desperately wanted to get back to his family and friends at home after being away for so many years. This is something we can all relate to. I miss my home after a week of business travel. Imagine being away for years of arduous and dangerous travel, carrying out such an important mission. Paul did not allow all the hardships he faced to distract him from completing the monumental task that Jesus had given him. I admire him greatly.
The first take away message for me is to find inspiration from Paul’s strength, dedication and courage in order to face hardships and challenges in our own lives. Secondly: to follow Paul’s example by finding opportunities to testify to the good news of God’s Grace. (Acts 20:24) And lastly: to remember and apply Paul’s words in Acts 20:35: “ In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Sue Mclean, EfM , Year 2