Monday 25 May, 2020

Acts 20:13-16

13 We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. 14 When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15 The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.

On first reading, this passage sounds like part of Great Aunt Hepzibah’s travel diary with a few unnecessary details. But thinking and praying about it have helped me get more out of it.

The first thing that strikes me is how real this is. Someone inventing this wouldn’t bother to include details such as Paul walking to Assos while his companions went by ship. The ‘we’ language shows that Luke (the author of Acts) was there with Paul and is giving an eyewitness account. All of this really happened! It is not just a story.

The second thing is Paul’s eagerness to get to Jerusalem – so much so that he avoided going into Ephesus, where he had many friends. Paul was going to see the elders in Jerusalem to report all that had happened on his missionary trips in Asia Minor and Greece. He was warned that hardship would await him there, but he hurried on, so he could get there before Pentecost. Why was he so eager?

Paul’s missionary trips had helped spread the gospel, and he was eager to return to Jerusalem and share the joyful news of all that had happened. Before Jesus, Pentecost, known as the Feast of Weeks, celebrated the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. Now Paul was coming with joy to celebrate the harvest of souls instead. I’m sure he rejoiced at the changed significance of this feast, and in all that God had done.

I am reminded that there is so much joy in being used by God and fulfilling what he has asked me to do, even in the mundane things like Paul’s travel.  And there is so much joy in sharing that with my brothers and sisters in Christ. It has reminded me to open myself to Jesus and ask him to use me, and then rejoice in what he has done with my faith community.

Lord Jesus, I give myself afresh to you today. Help me to be eager like Paul – eager to do your work, and eager to share the joy of that with my church family.

Written by Megan Cornell

2 replies
  1. Justin says:

    I am so thankful that the specific island and coastal destinations that Paul, Luke and others travelled is recorded here. At the time that Luke recorded this, these would have been small towns and regional centres serving travellers as they made their way along the Mediterranean coast. A melting pot of belief and value systems existed under the Roman rule that allowed diversity, as long as all people were still happy to (verbally at least) acknowledge that “Caesar is Lord”

    200 years later, this area was a majority Christian area, and 250 years later the formal religion of the Roman empire was Christianity!

    It astounds me that in the ancient world, where people tended to follow the religious and cultural traditions of their ancestors, stretching back scores of generations, that the impact of the Gospel could be so rapid and so universal.

    Thank You Lord that the power of Your Holy Spirit continues to be at work today. In our culture and society, help us to be effective like Paul, in the way that we share the Good News about Jesus.

  2. Sue says:

    Wonderful insight Megan
    It is delightful to me that the Bible is written as letters to friends…there is a lovely “casualness” about the journeys.

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