Worthy Disciple or No: Would You Go Up to Jerusalem or Would You Avoid It At All Costs?

Today’s selected reading continues in the scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ, which is the church as it was recorded in the book of Acts by Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fourteen verses of the twenty-first chapter. BOUND IN THE SPIRIT! CHARTING A COURSE FOR JERUSALEM! EMBRACING THE UNKNOWN! NOT KNOWING THE THINGS THAT SHALL BEFALL ME THERE! THE HOLY GHOST WITNESSES IN EVERY CITY SAYING BONDS AND AFFLICTS ABIDE ME! NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME! NEITHER COUNT I MY LIFE DEAR UNTO MYSELF! THAT I MIGHT FINISH MY COURSE WITH JOY, AHD THE MINISTRY WHICH I RECEIVED OF THE LORD JESUS! When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the beloved physician Luke transitioning away from writing about the apostle Paul’s time with the Ephesian elders to his departure from their presence in Miletus. If you read the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that the chapter is predominately about the time the apostle Paul spent with the Ephesian elders there in Miletus where he would provide them much needed words of warning, caution and instruction. I am convinced that if we are to understand that which is found in the twenty-first chapter of the book of Ephesians we must first understand that which is found in the twentieth chapter. It is what we find in the twentieth chapter that stands and serves as the background and backdrop for the events which are found in the twenty-first chapter. I’m the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts we find the apostle Paul recounting his time and his presence there in the city of Ephesus and how he had spent three years living and dwelling among them as he delivered unto them the full counsel of the living God. As the apostle Paul spoke unto the Ephesian elders you find him speaking unto them of his time spent among them laboring to supply and meet his own needs as he neither wanted to place any burden on the Ephesian saints, nor ask anything of and from them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is written within the twentieth chapter, for not only did the apostle Paul warm the Ephesian elders of the imminent dangers that would face them upon his departure, but he also provided them instructions NBC10 to take heed to themselves and both look after and feed the flock. The apostle Paul knew and understood the imminent dangers that faced the Ephesian church upon his departure, did he knew that there would be savage and grievous wolves who would enter in among the flock and would not spare any of them. What’s more, is that there would be those from their own number who would rise up in order that they might entice men and women unto themselves and the doctrine and teaching they would present. The apostle was very much aware of the fact that there was a great need to feed the flock and to follow in his example in feeding the flock the full counsel of the living God and not to withhold anything that would help and benefit them in their spiritual walk and journey in this life.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the words which are found in the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts, for what we find within this chapter is an emotional exchange between the apostle Paul and the Ephesian elders as he was preparing himself to make his way to the city of Jerusalem. In fact, if you read earlier on in the twentieth chapter you will find the apostle Paul endeavoring to make it to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost. It actually isn’t until later on in the discourse and exchange between the apostle Paul and the Ephesian elders that we learn of the apostle Paul’s suspicion there would be intense trials and troubles that would lie in wait and befall him as he made his way to Jerusalem. The apostle Paul would and could not avoid Jerusalem—despite the fact that he was very much aware of the fact the Holy Spirit witnessed that in every city bonds and afflictions waited for him. This was in all reality the testimony the apostle Paul already had within and during his apostolic life and ministry, for you will find that in virtually every city he faced opposition and resistance from the Jews as they vehemently opposed his message and the words which he spoke unto them, as well as the Gentiles. If and as you read the words which are found within the book of Acts from the ninth chapter on you will find the apostle Paul almost immediately experiencing trials and troubles as a direct result of preaching and teaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. As early as Damascus we find the Jews and others lying in wait for the apostle Paul in order that they might lay hold of and seize him that they might put him to death. By the time we come to the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts we have found the apostle Paul having been stoned to death and being brought out of the city being supposed as being dead, as well as the apostle Paul being imprisoned in Philippi after he drove out an evil spirit from a girl who brought her masters much gain through soothsaying. What’s more is that you will find the apostle Paul experiencing two distinct uproars and riots within two distinct cities as the Jews not only invited an uproar within the city of Thessalonica, but so also did Demetrius the silversmith incite the other workers of the same trade against the apostle Paul and his preaching that there be only one true God and that there are no gods which be made from human hands of gold, silver, wood and stone. What’s more, is in virtually every city the apostle Paul found himself at odds with the Jews and his own countrymen as they sought to strike him down and put him to death.

If you read the words which are found within the twentieth and twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will begin to notice this picture emerging concerning the apostle Paul and that which would befall him in his journey leading up to Jerusalem. It is when you come to the twentieth and twenty-first chapters of the book of Acts that you find the apostle Paul beginning to discern and understand that this journey toward and unto Jerusalem would be one of incredible and supreme importance, as it would be a pivotal point within and during his journey with Christ. This apostle who not only walked with but also followed Jesus the Christ would now find himself making a journey similar to Christ as there cane the a point within the life and ministry of the apostle Paul when he would need to make his way unto Jerusalem not knowing what lie before him, but knowing that the Holy Spirit witnessed that in every city trials and troubles, bonds and afflictions were in store for him. The apostle Paul knew that he needed to make his way unto the city of Jerusalem—even though and despite the fact he did not know that which would befall and lie in wait for him there within the city. If you read the four gospels which were written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that there came a point within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when He realized and recognized what He must needs journey unto Jerusalem, for it would be in Jerusalem where He would fulfill that perfect work and will of the Father within His life upon the earth. There came a point during the three and a half years Jesus walked among us in the form of human flesh that He recognized and understood that He needed to make His way to Jerusalem, and that it would be in Jerusalem where He would face that which He knew would come upon Him—namely, suffering and being betrayed, and being handed over to the Gentiles and sinners. It is quite unique and astounding that when you read the four gospels you will find that there came a point within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when He realized and recognized that He would make His way unto the city of Jerusalem and would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders and be handed over to the Gentiles in order that He might suffer, be crucified and be put to death. If you begin reading from the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew on you will find that immediately after Jesus asked the disciples who they said that He the Son of man was He began speaking unto them and declaring that He must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem, and that it would be there in the city of Jerusalem where He would suffer many things, would be crucified and put to death, and would rise again on the third day.

I sit here this morning and I can’t help but feel a great need to within this writing present you with the various references and passages which are found within the four gospels concerning Jesus and His need to journey unto the city of Jerusalem. Despite what Jesus knew about Jerusalem, and despite Jesus knowing and understanding that it would be in Jerusalem where He would suffer and be put to death by those who vehemently opposed and hated Him, He knew that He needed to journey and make His way unto Jerusalem and that He would and could not avoid the city. Pause for a moment and think about and consider the fact that if you knew your journey to a certain and specific place would ultimately result in tremendous suffering—perhaps even death—would you still have the resolve and the purpose within your heart and spirit to make your way unto that place? If you knew that your journey and your time to a certain and specific place would result in tremendous suffering within your life, and that such suffering was the divine will, plan and purpose of the living God—would you still make your way to that place, or would you do anything and everything you could to try and avoid it? Immediately after Jesus asked the disciples whom men said that He the Son of man was, and after then flipping the script and asking them whom they said that He the Son of man was, Jesus from that time began speaking unto and teaching them that He must needs make His way to the city of Jerusalem, and that it would be in the city of Jerusalem where He would suffer many things and would be put to death before being raised from death to life on the third day. There came a point within the earthly life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when He knew that He needed to make His way to Jerusalem, and that it would be in Jerusalem He would face tremendous suffering, and that the suffering He would face and experience there in Jerusalem would ultimately lead to His death and crucifixion. What makes this even more intriguing and captivating is when you think about and consider the fact that Jesus didn’t shy away from, nor did He avoid the city of Jerusalem, nor did He avoid the suffering—and even the death. I am convinced that before we transition to the references found within the four gospels concerning Jesus’ journey unto the city of Jerusalem, and how it sets the stage for the apostle Paul, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we first turn and direct our attention to the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. It would be in this particular passage of Scripture we would come face to face with something truly remarkable and astonishing concerning Jesus’ view of the cross—and even His view of suffering. Consider if you will the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

If you read the words which are found and recorded within this particular passage of Scripture you will find the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews writing and speaking of our running with patience the race that is set before us, and how we are to look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. What’s more, is the author of this epistle wrote concerning this Jesus the Christ that He for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and as a result is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The words which we find written an recorded within this passage are echoed and mentioned in the second chapter of the epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints and congregation. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the second chapter of the epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints you will find the following words which were written concerning Jesus the Christ and the tremendous humility He exercised concerning suffering and the cross which was before Him in this life. Consider if you will that which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of this epistle beginning with the first verse concerning the suffering which Jesus the Christ would endure and experience—suffering which would ultimately and inevitably lead to death and being crucified at and by the hands of sinners:

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in loneliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11).

With the words we find written and found within this passage of Scripture we come face to face with the awesome reality that not only did Jesus endure the cross despising its shame for He looked forward to the joy that was found in the cross, but we also find that He deliberately and intentionally made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. We dare not miss and lose sight of this, for when Jesus began teaching His disciples that He must needs journey unto Jerusalem, He knew that it would be in the city of Jerusalem where He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes there in the city, and would ultimately be crucified and put to death. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews points to and reveals the awesome and incredible reality that Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame of it because there was a joy that was found at the very heart and center of the suffering and death he would experience. Oh that we would recognize and understand this absolutely wonderful reality, for it is this reality which helps us understand how Jesus could willingly make His way toward and into the city of Jerusalem knowing exactly what would befall Him there within the city. Despite the fact that suffering and ultimately death would await and befall Him there in the city of Jerusalem, Jesus knew that it would be in the city of Jerusalem where He would ultimately fulfill the divine will, the divine plan and the divine purpose of the living God for Him. It would be in Jerusalem where Jesus would ultimately find that for which He had been sent to this earth, and it would be in Jerusalem where the divine will of the Father would be manifested in His life. While it was true that for three and a half years He walked among men as He taught them the kingdom of God and offered healing and deliverance, it wouldn’t be until Jesus actually came unto Jerusalem at the appointed time of the Father that He would actually begin stepping into that which the Father had deliberately ordained and appointed for His first and only begotten Son. Although Jesus had entered into Jerusalem countless times throughout His private life before emerging at the Jordan River and being baptized by John the Baptist, and although Jesus had entered into Jerusalem a number of times during the three and a half years He walked upon the earth with His disciples as He led them, there would come a point within his life and ministry when He would make His way to Jerusalem, and how this particular journey to Jerusalem would be like none other He had experienced. Although Jesus had entered into the city of Jerusalem and had gone up to various feasts which were present there in the city, there would be one time above all the others when Jesus would enter into the city of Jerusalem, and it would be during that time in the city of Jerusalem He would ultimately fulfill the divine plan and purpose of the living God and Father for His life here upon the earth. Consider if you will the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew concerning Jesus’ question concerning whom He the Son of man was and His teaching the disciples that He must needs suffer many things and die before ultimately being raised from death to life. What’s more, is that I invite you to consider the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel, for it is in the seventeenth chapter we encounter Jesus being transfigured before the disciples Peter, James and John, and ultimately His speaking unto the disciples once more concerning His suffering and death:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that you art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. HE saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake that’ll find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with his angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:13-28).

“And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day He shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:22-23).

If you continue reading in the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will come to the twentieth chapter, and in this particular chapter you will again find Jesus speaking unto His disciples concerning their journey unto Jerusalem and that which would befall Him there within the city. If you begin reading with and from the seventeenth verse of this particular chapter you will find the following words which were recorded by the apostle Matthew, and the words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ: “And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again” (Matthew 20:17-19). Please pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for it is within this passage of Scripture where we find it in direct alignment with that which Jesus had previously spoken unto His disciples—first after He asked them whom men said that He the Son of man was, and secondly after He was transfigured atop the mountain with Moses and Elijah before the apostles Peter, James and John. It is quite clear form these passages that there came a point within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when He knew and recognized that He must needs go up to Jerusalem, and that by going up to Jerusalem—not only would He be betrayed, and not only would He suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, but He would also be handed over to the Gentiles who would mock, scourge and crucify Him before He would rise from death to life on the third day. It’s quite remarkable and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that on three separate occasions within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ He spoke unto and taught the disciples that He must needs go unto Jerusalem, and that in Jerusalem He must suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and elders of Israel, as well as be handed over to the Gentiles who would mock, scourge and crucify Him before He would be raised from death to life on the third day. On three separate occasions within the gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus the Christ speaking of Jerusalem, and how He must needs go up to the city of Jerusalem, for it would be in the city of Jerusalem where He would ultimately fulfill the divine will, plans and purpose of the Father in the earth. Pause for a moment and think about and consider the fact that it would be through suffering and death that Jesus the Christ would ultimately fulfill the divine will of the Father for His life, for it was in Jerusalem where He would face and encounter everything for which He had been sent. Pause for a moment and think about and consider the fact that it would be through sufferings and death Jesus the Christ would fulfill that which the Father had purposed and ordained for His life, and that the only way for this to happen was for Him to make His way to the city of Jerusalem. If Jesus wanted to fulfill the divine will and plan of the Father He would journey unto Jerusalem, however, if Jesus wanted to miss fulfilling that which the Father had ordained in the earth, He could have avoided Jerusalem altogether.

WOULD YOU AVOID JERUSALEM? WOULD YOU REMAIN OUTSIDE JERUSALEM? WOULD YOU CHOOSE ONE OF THE OTHER CITIES WITHIN JUDAEA OR SAMARIA? PERHAPS GALILEE? PERHAPS NAZARETH? PERHAPS ONE OF THE OTHER CITIES LOCATED WITHIN THE REGION OF JUDAEA AND SAMARIA! Oh, I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped and captivated with and by this reality of whether or not we would avoid Jerusalem, or whether we would go up to the city knowing full well what it would mean for us and for our lives. I sit here this morning knowing that immediately after Jesus asked the disciples whom they said that He the Son of man was, and immediately after Simon Peter responded by declaring that He was the Christ the Son of the living God, Jesus began teaching His disciples that He must needs go up to Jerusalem, and that it would be in Jerusalem where He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, and would ultimately be put to death before being raised on the third day. Jesus knew that His time on the earth and His mission and ministry would ultimately lead Him to the city of Jerusalem, and it would be in the city of Jerusalem where He would fulfill the divine will of the Father for His life. With that being said, however, Jesus knew and understood that there in Jerusalem He would face tremendous suffering, and would ultimately be put to death before being raised from death to life on the third day. What so amazes me about the words which Jesus the Christ spoke concerning His need to go up to Jerusalem was that while it was true that He knew that by going to Jerusalem He would suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders of Israel, as well as the Gentiles, and although he would ultimately be put to death and be crucified, he also knew that he would be raised from death to life on the third day. In other words, Jesus knew that Jerusalem meant suffering, and He knew that Jerusalem meant death, but He also knew that Jerusalem meant resurrection from death which would be found and experienced there within the city. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus knew what Jerusalem would mean for Him, and He knew what would befall Him there in the city, and yet He neither avoided nor refused to go down unto it. Despite knowing what Jerusalem would mean for Him, Jesus knew that it was in Jerusalem where he would ultimately fulfill the will of the Father in the earth, and that He would fulfill that will through suffering and death. What’s more, is that Jesus knew that part of the reward for suffering and death would be resurrection from death to life on the third day before ultimately ascending unto the right hand of the Father and being exalted with the glory He had with the Father before the world began. Oh, while there was a certain sorrow that surrounded the city of Jerusalem, there would also be a tremendous joy that would surround the city of Jerusalem, for it would be there in the city where Jesus would be raised from death to life, and as a result of suffering and death He would not only rise from the death, but would also ascend unto the right hand of the Father Bering given a name that is above every other name in heaven and on earth.

Now you might be wondering why I would spend so much time writing about Jesus the Christ and His need to journey unto the city of Jerusalem knowing full well what going unto Jerusalem would mean, and yet if you are wishing to understand the journey which the apostle Paul would make unto the city, you must know that it begins with Jesus the Christ and His own journey to Jerusalem. It has been said that Jesus endured the cross so we wouldn’t have to, and yet such a statement and belief isn’t accurate in the least bit, for even Jesus Himself declared that if any man wished to come after Him they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. What’s more, is that Jesus emphatically declared that if any man would not take up the cross they would and could not be His disciples. Jesus’ own words emphatically debunk and prove false the reality that Jesus died upon the cross so that we wouldn’t have to. The truth of the matter is that Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we wouldn’t have to, but to provide for us an example of the cross and its work within our own lives. While it is true Jesus emphatically declared that if any man wished to come after Him they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him, He demonstrated and showed us what it is like to take up our cross, as he carried His own cross along the Via Dolorosa to the place where He would ultimately be crucified between two thieves and those who would mock and ridicule Him, and those who would weep and mourn for Him. What’s more is that we must recognize and understand that even though Jesus took up His own cross and carried His cross to the place where He would be crucified, He would need help from another who would help Him carry the cross. If you read the four gospels you will find that there was a man named Simon who they would compel to help Jesus carry His cross to the place where He would be crucified and ultimately be put to death. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus endured the cross and was crucified upon the cross—not to somehow free and deliver us from having to take up our own cross, and from being crucified with Him, but to show us how and what that looks like. It was true that there was a tremendous work of salvation, deliverance and redemption that took place upon the cross, however, I am convinced that there was a secondary work that was done at the cross—namely, demonstrating and revealing unto us what it looks like to carry and take up our cross, and even to be crucified upon the cross and to be crucified with Jesus the Christ. Oh we dare not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the incredible importance of what it means to truly go up to Jerusalem, and what can and may very well befall us there in the city of Jerusalem—regardless of whether we want to accept and believe it or not.

If you read the words which are found in the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul speaking unto the Ephesian elders preparing them for his departure and for their never seeing his face again. Within this discourse and exchange between the apostle Paul and these elders of the Ephesian church you will find the apostle Paul speaking the following words before and unto them: “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and fflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” (Acts 20:22-25). The apostle Paul knew and understood that his journey to Jerusalem would mean that the Ephesian elders would see his face no more, for he knew what would befall him there in the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul knew that the Holy Spirit witnessed in every city that there would await and befall him bonds and afflictions, and Jerusalem would be the pinnacle of the bonds and afflictions he would face and experience in this life. The apostle Paul knew that he must needs go unto Jerusalem, and that it would be there in Jerusalem he would face tremendous suffering, affliction, opposition and resistance—perhaps unlike anything he had every faced and experience before. As the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts opens and begins it does so with the beloved physician Luke writing how it came to pass after they had left the Ephesian elders in Miletus and had launched, they came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara. As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary that you read and understand them through the lens of the apostle Paul charting a straight course to Jerusalem—a straight course to that city where He knew he would find and experience tremendous suffering and opposition. In fact, if you read the words which are found within this passage you will find that when the apostle Paul and his companions landed at Tyre and found disciples they tarried there seven days. The beloved physician Luke writes how when they came to Tyre the disciples who were there through the Spirit declared unto Paul that he should not go up to Jerusalem. It isn’t clear why they instructed the apostle Paul not to go unto Jerusalem, but we know and understand that they knew there was something about Jerusalem that would be incredibly difficult for the apostle Paul. What’s more, is that if you continue reading the words which are found in this passage, you will find that while the apostle Paul and his companions were in Caesarea dwelling in the house of Philip the evangelist, there came a prophet named Agabus from Judaea who declared unto the apostle Paul that those in Jerusalem would bind the man that owns the girdle which he had taken and bound the apostle Paul with, and would deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

As you move forward in the book of Acts from this moment on you will find that everything the apostle Paul did, and everywhere the apostle Paul went was all to bring him to Jerusalem where he would face tremendous opposition and affliction. I posed the question before whether or not you would go unto Jerusalem, or whether you would avoid it at all costs, and I can’t help but feel the need to present the question to you once more. Would you make the conscious decision to go unto Jerusalem knowing that it would be in Jerusalem you would experience suffering and ultimately death, or would you choose to avoid it at all costs and abide within other cities? Would you purpose and resolve within your heart and spirit to journey unto Jerusalem knowing full well what it meant, or would you choose to avoid the city at all costs, and thus preserve and protect your life? It’s interesting to read the apostle Paul declare that he counted not his life dear as unto him, and that none of the things which lie ahead of him moved him, so that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry, which he received of the Lord Jesus. In fact, if you move to the fourth chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy who would himself minister in Ephesus among the saints which dwelt there, you will find the apostle Paul writing the following words: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). As I bring this writing to a close I leave you with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of the epistle which he wrote and sent unto the Philippian saints, for the words which we find there further enhance the reality of the apostle Paul not counting his life as being dear unto him, and to fully and completely surrender his life to Jesus the Christ—and not just spiritually speaking, but even physically speaking. Consider if you will the words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi beginning with the seventh verse of the third chapter:

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-14).

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