Living to Die: The Journey Has Always Led to This Moment

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ which is the church as it was written in the book of Acts by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses fifteen through thirty-six of the twenty-first chapter. PAUL ARRIVES IN JERUSALEM! THE JOURNEY HAS LED YOU HERE! THIS IS WHAT ITS ALL LED UP TO! THE CROSS HAS LED YOU HERE! THE JOURNEY HAS ALWAYS LED YOU HERE! FOLLOWING CHRIST TO THE PLACE OF HIS SUFFERING! WALKING WITH CHRIST WILL LEAD YOU TO JERUSALEM! ARE THINGS FALLING APART OR ARE THEY FALLING INTO PLACE? When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle Paul once more setting sail for the city of Jerusalem. In all reality, the words which are found within this passage bring us face to face with the incredible reality of the apostle Paul finally arriving in Jerusalem. If you read the book of Acts—specifically the account of the life of the apostle Paul—you will encounter the reality that he has in fact been to the city of Jerusalem before. What’s more, is that as you read the words found within this New Testament book you will find the apostle was in the city of Jerusalem at least two different and two distinct times. The first time the apostle Paul entered into or returned unto the city of Jerusalem after his conversion was immediately following his conversion on the road to Damascus and his subsequent baptism in water, the infilling and in dwelling of the Holy Spirit and his preaching unto the Jews which were there in the city. As you read the words which are found within the ninth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that while I’m Damascus there were those who lie in wait watching and waiting for him to observe his coming and going so they could seize and put him to death. When the apostle Paul was made aware of what was intended for him there were certain brethren who were willing to guard and protect his life and lower him outside the wall in a basket, thus allowing him to escape. After escaping the murderous threats which were raised against him there in Damascus the apostle Paul would then journey back to the city of Damascus where he showed himself unto the disciples. Initially there were those who were fearful and afraid of him and did not believe in the authenticity and genuineness of his conversion and were skeptical about what had taken place within his life. It would be Joses who was also surnamed Barnabas who would come alongside Saul at that moment in time and stand with him before the apostles and brethren. It would be after those in Damascus sought to take his life and put him to death in Damascus the apostle Paul would return to Jerusalem after he had initially left the city with letters from the high priest to seize and lay hold of any whim he found as followers of the way and bring them back bound unto the city of Jerusalem. It’s interesting to note the journey of the apostle Paul would begin in Jerusalem as it was in Jerusalem he would launch forth with letters from the high priest to lay hold of and seize any Christians whom he found there in the city and bring them back to Jerusalem bound.

It’s absolutely wonderful and incredible to read the account of the life of the apostle Paul and to discover that it would be when he left the city of Jerusalem initially to journey unto Damascus to lay hold of and seize those of the way that he would encounter the risen and exalted Christ in the way and ultimately he converted. It would be the initial journey of the apostle Paul from Jerusalem—one which he had absolutely no clue he would encounter the risen and exalted Christ—that he would find and experience the risen and exalted Christ who would speak unto him and set him apart for his own purposes. I find it absolutely wonderful and astonishing to read the account of the life of the apostle Paul and to discover that it was upon his initial departure from the city of Jerusalem that he would not only encounter and experience Jesus the Christ along the way, but would also experience the genuine and authentic love of one of the brethren named Ananias. What’s more, is that it would be after and upon journeying away from the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul who was at that time still named Saul that he would find himself experiencing the person, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit as He both baptized and filled him completely. It would be there in Damascus the apostle Paul would have his life completely upended and radically transformed—first by the person of the Jesus Christ who appeared unto him along the way, and then by the person of the Holy Spirit. It would be there in Damascus where the apostle Paul would be baptized in water and would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and would begin his journey of teaching and preaching, as well as building up, establishing and edifying the church and body of Jesus the Christ. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight of this wonderful reality, for to do so would be to miss the awesome and incredible importance of the journey which the apostle Paul would initially take away from Jerusalem and unto the city of Damascus, and a journey that would take him back to Jerusalem where he would be presented to the apostles and the brethren. It would be there in Jerusalem the first time after conversion the apostle Paul would be presented unto the apostles and brethren as a completely changed and transformed man who was completely and utterly changed by the power of Jesus the Christ. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the truly wonderful reality of the apostle Paul having his life completely upended by the person of Jesus the Christ and would ultimately find himself returning to the court of Jerusalem where he would be presented unto the brethren as one whose entire life had been changed and transformed by the power and presence of Jesus the Christ, as well as the Holy Spirit.

I stand here this morning and I can’t help but think about the absolutely incredible thought that although we read the apostle Paul in Jerusalem in this chapter, this would not be the first time the apostle Paul would return to the city. We have already read and considered the fact that the apostle Paul has visited and returned to the city of Jerusalem after the Jews sought to lay hold of and put him to death there in Damascus. As you read the words which are found within the book of Acts and come to the fifteenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul returning to the city of Jerusalem a second time. This second time, however, would be completely different from the first time the apostle Paul visited and returned to Jerusalem. As you read the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that the apostle Paul would return to THR city of Jerusalem after certain believers came from Judaea and declared that the Christians and those who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ needed to be circumcised in order to be saved and experience salvation. It would be this second journey and return of the apostle Paul to the city of Jerusalem that would being him back again in order that both he, the apostles and elders of the church would establish whether or not it was necessary for Gentiles who believed on the Lord Jesus the Christ to be circumcised. Of course, as you read the words which are found within the passage of scripture in the fifteenth chapter you will find the apostle Peter initially speaking you among the elders and brethren, and speaking of his time in Caesarea where he would minister among Cornelius and his entire household, and how while he was speaking unto them the holy spiritual fell and would baptized both Cornelius and his entire household. The words which the apostle Peter would speak would be followed by the words which James the brother of Jesus the Christ would speak aligning with the words which Peter spoke and how they ought to lay no other burden on the saints and Christians other than to abstain from idolatry and eating blood. The apostle Paul would ultimately leave the city of Jerusalem with letters in hand which were delivered by himself, Barnabas, Silas and evening Judas speaking unto the churches that there was no need for their hearts and souls to be troubled, for the apostles and elders of the church had decided and determined that there was no need for the Gentiles to be circumcised in order that they might be saved. This second journey of the apostle Paul to the city of Jerusalem would be one that would center upon whether or not those Gentiles who accepted and believed on the Lord Jesus THR Christ should in fact be circumcised in order to find and experience salvation. It’s worth nothing that the ultimate outcome of this meeting of the apostles and elders of the church there in Jerusalem would result in it being decided that the Gentiles would not and did not need to be circumcised in order to find and do drown s salvation. Oh how a wonderful and powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that this would be the second journey the apostle Paul would make to the city of Jerusalem since his conversion on the road to Damascus, and subsequent baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit. We ought not miss and lose sight of the fact that the apostle Paul would return to the city of Jerusalem twice after he experienced Jesus the Christ along the way to Damascus.

When we come to the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts we again find the apostle Paul returning to the city of Jerusalem. It’s interesting and worth nothing that when you read the previous chapter or two you will find the apostle Paul desirous of returning unto Jerusalem and to be there in time for the Passover. If you read the opening verses of the twentieth chapter—before the apostle Paul would fall unto himself the elders of the Ephesian church—you will find the apostle Paul seeking to true Rn unto the city of Jerusalem in time for the feat of Pentecost. What marks and what makes this particular desire to return unto the city of Jerusalem so incredibly unique and powerful was that there would be much talk about the apostle Paul returning to the city, as there were certain disciples whom he met who through the Spirit told him not to go down unto the city of Jerusalem. If you continue reading in the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find it written that while in Caesarea dwelling and abiding at the house of Philip the Evangelist there would come down from Judaea a prophet named Agabus who would take the garment and cloke of the apostle Paul, bind his hands with it and declare unto him that the Spirit declares that the owner of that tunic would be bound in Jerusalem and would be handed over to the Gentiles. In face if you begin reading with and from the eighth verse of the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find and encounter the following words which were written concerning the apostle Paul and his companions who would come unto Caesarea and dwell in the house of Philip the Evangelist who was one of the seven deacons of the early church. Consider if you will the words which are found within the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts beginning with the eighth verse and continuing through the fourteenth verse:

“And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we we entered into the house of Philip the Evangelist which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:8-14).

The words which we find within this passage are quite astounding and remarkable, for within it not only find a prophet from Judaea declaring by the Holy Spirit that the Jews would bind the apostle Paul in Jerusalem and hand him over to the Gentiles, but we also find the apostle Paul once more making a bold and emphatic statement concerning his resolve to go down unto the city of Jerusalem. In all reality, the words which we find within this passage of Scripture are not only intrinsically linked to that which we find in the book of Acts itself, but it is also intrinsically linked to the words we find in the fourth and final chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto his spiritual son Timothy who was the bishop of the church in Ephesus. Before we even get into that which is found in the remaining portion of the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts it is necessary that we consider the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto his company who both wept when they heard that he would be bound in Jerusalem, and would be handed over to the Gentiles, and tried convincing him not to go down unto the city. It would be in response to the tears and words which those of Paul’s company that would break the apostle Paul’s heart, for he would emphatically declare unto them that he was not only willing to be bound in Jerusalem, but he was also willing to die there in Jerusalem. Consider if you will the words which are found—first in the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts, next in the twentieth and previous chapter, and finally in the fourth chapter of the final epistle the apostle Paul would ever write:

“What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

“And now, behold, I go bound int 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 afflictions 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).

“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).

The words which we find in each of these passages bring us face to face with the reality that the apostle Paul did not count his own life as being dear unto him, and understood and recognized that in every city bonds and afflictions abide him. The apostle Paul recognized—perhaps very early on during his apostolic life and ministry—that he must suffer many things for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ, as was emphatically declared and proclaimed unto Ananias when he was instructed by the Lord Jesus to go unto Damascus, lay his hands on him, and pray for him that he might receive his sight. If we are going to understand that which is found within this passage of Scripture is it absolutely necessary that we think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul not only recognized and understood that bonds and afflictions abided in him with each city he journeyed unto, but he also counted not his life as dear unto him that he might obtain the prize and the crown which was laid up before him. We dare not, we ought not, we must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely wonderful and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss the incredible reality of that which took place in the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts. It would be within this chapter where we would finally find the apostle Paul returning once more to the city of Jerusalem—this third time the apostle would return unto the city of Jerusalem as was written and recorded within the book of Acts. We have already mentioned and discussed the first journey and return to the city of Jerusalem would be a presentation of transformation, conversion and redemption, while the second journey and return to the city of Jerusalem would be to gather together with the apostles and elders of the church in Jerusalem to determine whether or not the Gentile Christians needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. It would of course be determined that the Gentile Christians did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, and there ought to be no other brother who would trouble their hearts and minds with declarations that they ought be circumcised in order that they might experience salvation through the person of Jesus the Christ. It would be this third journey to Jerusalem, however, that would prove to be much different than the previous journeys to the city where the early church was present. In all reality, there is something very similar to this journey and return unto the city of Jerusalem to that which the apostle Paul experienced when he first came unto the city of Jerusalem after his conversion on the road to Damascus and encounter with the risen and exalted Jesus the Christ. If you come to the twenty-sixth verse of the ninth chapter you will find the following words which were written by the beloved physician Luke concerning the time the apostle Paul spent in the city of Jerusalem the first time after his conversion:

“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they were about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edifies; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Acts 9:26-31).

It is within these verses and within this passage of Scripture that we find the apostle Paul having just been delivered from the hands of those who sought to slay him in Damascus and come unto the city of Jerusalem. It would be there in Jerusalem where the brethren would be skeptical of his conversion and would initially be afraid of him. It wouldn’t be until Barnabas came alongside the apostle Paul and confirmed that he had in fact seen the Lord in the way, and that the Lord had spoken clearly and plainly unto him, and that he preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Ultimately the apostle Paul would be able to move about freely within the city of Jerusalem without fear of those who were skeptical concerning his conversion and whether or not he was a disciple. The beloved physician Luke would write that the apostle Paul would speak boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians, which when they realized they could not stand against the wisdom and counsel of the apostle Paul which the Spirit gave him, they sought to slay and put him to death. Of course we know and understand that the apostle Paul was delivered out of the hands of the Grecians by the brethren who brought him to Caesarea, and sent him forth unto Tarsus. It’s worth noting and understanding that which is found within this passage of Scripture, for it is within this passage of Scripture that we find the apostle Paul experiencing opposition within the city’s of Jerusalem from the Greeks who could not stand in the midst of the wisdom which the Spirit had given him, nor against the doctrine which Jesus the Christ had bestowed unto him. I am convinced it is absolutely necessary and critical for us to understand what took place within this passage of Scripture, for when you come to the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts—not only will you find the prophet Agabus coming unto Caesarea and prophesying, but you will also find Agabus prophesying through and according to the Spirit that the apostle would go down unto the city of Jerusalem and would be bound by the Jews, and would ultimately be handed over to the Gentiles. Oh, please don’t miss and lose sight of this reality, for this was something very much similar to that which Jesus the Christ himself declared when speaking unto His disciples. It would be Jesus who would speak unto His disciples and declare unto them that He must needs go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and elders of Israel, and ultimately be put to death before Bering raised from death to life on the third day. What’s more, is that Jesus would also emphatically state and declare unto the disciples that He must needs journey unto Jerusalem and there suffer many things of the Jews and be handed over to the Gentiles who would mock, scourge, and ultimately put Him to death before He would be raised from death to life. Three times within the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find Jesus speaking unto the disciples concerning His need to journey unto Jerusalem where he would not only suffer many things at the hands of the Jews, but would also be handed over to the Gentiles who would mock, scourge and crucify Him.

When you read the words which were declared unto the apostle Paul there in Caesarea you will encounter and come face to face with the same reality which was found within the life of Jesus the Christ. It would be Jesus the Christ who would make His journey toward the city of Jerusalem from Caesarea Philippi—a journey that would take Him to the city where he would suffer many things at the hands of the Jews before being handed over to the Gentiles who would mock, scourge and ultimately crucify Him before being raised from death to life on the third day. We ought not and must not miss this particular reality, for this reality brings us face to face with that which was declared unto the apostle Paul by the prophet Agabus, for Agabus declared unto the apostle Paul a similar reality to that which the Lord Jesus had declared concerning Himself. The Lord Jesus knew and understood that He must needs journey to Jerusalem, and that by journeying to the city of Jerusalem He would not only suffer many things at the hands of the Jews, but would also be handed over to the Gentiles who would mock, scourge and crucify Him. For the apostle Paul, however, the prophet Agabus declared unto him that he would journey to Jerusalem and would be bound by the Jews—and not only be bound by the Jews, but would also be handed over to the Gentiles. Of course that which the prophet Agabus prophesied unto the apostle Paul was not the whole and complete picture, for the Holy Spirit did not reveal everything that would befall the apostle Paul upon coming unto Jerusalem. The prophet Agabus according to the Holy Spirit did in fact reveal to the apostle Paul that his journey to the city of Jerusalem ultimately result in his being bound by the Jews, and ultimately his being handed over to the Gentiles. This is worth noting and paying attention to, for there are times within our lives when the Holy Spirit can and will speak to us, and can and will speak to us in part without revealing unto us the whole and complete picture. The apostle Paul knew and understood that he did not know what would befall him there in the city of Jerusalem, and that he must needs make the journey to the city anyway. Pause for a moment and consider that, for it was true that the apostle Paul did in fact know that bonds and afflictions abided him in every city, and he did in fact know that he must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem—although he did not know what would befall him there in the city. Imagine knowing that you must needs make your way to a specific and certain place, and while you know you’re supposed to journey unto that place, you don’t have any idea or clue what you will find, face and experience in that place. Pause for a moment and think about the tremendous reality that there are times within our lives when the Lord will call and lead us into and unto a specific place, and yet He will withhold from us any knowledge and understanding of what we will face and experience in those locations.

WOULD YOU JOURNEY INTO THE UNKNOWN? WOULD YOU MAKE YOUR WAY NOT KNOWING WHAT YOU WILL FIND, FACE AND EXPERIENCE? What I happen to find as so incredibly interesting and intriguing about the life of the apostle Paul at this particular point in time is that while it was true that he did in fact know he must needs go down unto Jerusalem, he had absolutely no clue what would befall him there in the city. It would be in the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts when the apostle Paul would declare unto the Ephesian elders that he went bound in the spirit unto the city of Jerusalem not knowing that which would befall him there. It wouldn’t be until he would get closer to Jerusalem and would come unto Caesarea where he was brought when the Grecians sought to put him to death so many years earlier the apostle Paul would actually begin receiving an understanding concerning that which would befall and come upon him there in Jerusalem. While speaking unto the Ephesian elders the apostle Paul knew only that he went up to Jerusalem bound by the spirit, but did not know what would await him there within the city. Before finally making his way to the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul would receive from the Holy Spirit through the prophet Agabus that he would journey unto the city of Jerusalem and would be bound by the Jews and would be handed over to the Gentiles. Sharing a similar fate as that of Jesus the Christ the apostle Paul knew and understood that he would go bound unto the city of Jerusalem, and that there within the city of Jerusalem he would be bound by the Jews, and as a result of being bound by the Jews, he would ultimately be handed over to the Gentiles. The question I have to ask as I sit here this morning is not only whether or not you would make your way into the unknown and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit there into the Unkown, or whether you would choose to remain where it’s comfortable and where it’s convenient. I can’t help but be directly confronted with the tremendous and incredible reality that more often than not we tend to shy away from the unknown and avoid that which we have absolutely no knowledge of. For the apostle Paul he knew he went bound in the spirit to Jerusalem—although he did not know what would and what could befall him there in the city. What’s truly unique and interesting is that the Holy Spirit would reveal a piece of the puzzle to the apostle Paul through the prophet Agabus, for through this prophet the Holy Spirit would declare unto him that he would go unto Jerusalem and would be bound by the Jews, and ultimately handed over to the Gentiles. The apostle Paul would gain and obtain a unique perspective into that which would await and that which would befall him there in the city of Jerusalem, for he would learn that it would be there in the city he would be bound by the Jews and would be handed over to the Gentiles.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul would speak and declare unto the Ephesian elders, as well as unto the brethren who were with him in Caesarea, for the apostle Paul knew and understood that his life was not his own, and therefore he did not count his life as being dear unto him. The apostle Paul was ready and willing to go unto the city of Jerusalem and be bound by the Jews—and not only be bound, but also to die there in the city of Jerusalem. These words would be echoed in even greater force in the final epistle and letter of the apostle Paul, for when writing unto Timothy he emphatically declared that he had fought the good fight, that he had finished the course which was before him, and that there was laid up before him a crown of righteousness—and not only for him alone, but for all those who love the appearance and appearing of the Lord Jesus the Christ. The more I consider the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the elders of the Ephesian church, as well as the words which the apostle Paul would speak unto the brethren who heard that he would be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem before being handed over to the Gentiles, the more I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Philippi. If you turn and direct your attention to the third chapter of the epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi you will find the following words which were emphatically written and declared by him concerning his own life and that which he counted dear and precious unto him:

“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 owner of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made comfortable 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 made perfect: 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).

The words which I find written here in this passage of Scripture help further illustrate and demonstrate the fact that although the apostle Paul did not know and wasn’t aware of what would befall and come upon him, he knew one thing for sure, and that was that he was ready to be poured out as a drink offering before and fore the living God and for the sake of Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul died not count his life as dear unto himself, and knew that it did not belong to him, but rather that it belonged to Jesus the Christ and that he was a steward of the life which he was given. Would it shock and surprise you to understand that the greatest way to steward the life you have been given is to surrender it before and unto Jesus the Christ? More often than not we think that stewarding our lives properly in a manner that pleases the Lord Jesus the Christ is by somehow holding on to it, and by exercising our own form of control over it, however, this simply is not the case. There would be those who would think and believe that the best way to steward their lives is by somehow exercising their own will and authority over it all the while not realizing and recognizing that the surest and greatest way to properly and correctly steward our lives is by in fact denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following after Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that the single greatest way to properly and correctly steward over our lives is to in fact let it go and to surrender it fully and completely to the Lord Jesus Christ in order that He might do unto it that which He desires and wants to do. The sure set and greatest way to steward our lives is to not count is as dear unto ourselves, and not to hold on to it, but rather to let it go and to surrender it fully and completely unto the Lord Jesus the Christ. Oh how radically and dramatically different our lives would be if we recognized and understood that we do more damage by seeking to hold on to and control our lives than we do by letting it go and fully and completely surrendering it unto the Lord Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul went unto Jerusalem not knowing what would befall him there, but only that he would be bound by the Jews and be handed over to the Gentiles. The apostle Paul did not know what would come as a result of being handed over to the Gentiles, for it was not revealed unto him. What makes this declaration and statement so incredible interesting is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus knew that he would be handed over to the Gentiles, and that as a result of being handed over to the Gentiles He would be mocked, scourged and ultimately crucified. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Paul knew and understood that his being handed over to the Gentiles would mean the same type of fate that came upon his Lord Jesus the Christ, for it was when Jesus was handed over to the Gentiles that He would be mocked, He would be scourged and He would be crucified and put to death. Did the apostle Paul know and understand that his being handed over to the Gentiles could very well and ultimately mean his death and that he would pass from this life to the next and be promoted to the kingdom of heaven and in the presence of the living God and Father of our Lord. Jesus the Christ, as well as the eternal Son Jesus the Christ? The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to follow Jesus the Christ into the Unkown and whether or not we are willing to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ—despite and regardless of whether or not we know what lies ahead of and before us as we do indeed walk with Him.

What we find within this passage of Scripture is that everything the apostle Paul had been living for up to this moment has led him here. From the moment he experienced and encountered Jesus the Christ on the road to Damascus his life and journey would lead him to this moment and place within his life when he would return to Jerusalem and begin to face that which the Lord Jesus the Christ had prepared and planned for him. What we find within this chapter is the beginning of the end, and how the journey which the apostle Paul had taken thus far would ultimately lead him to this place and to this moment in time. Everything the apostle Paul had said and done would lead and bring him to this place where he would come to the city of Jerusalem and would be bound by the Jews before being handed over to the Gentiles. LIVING TO DIE! The question I can’t help but ask when I read this passage of Scripture is what are you living for? Are you living to preserve your life? Are you living to save your life? Are you living to keep your life for and unto yourself? Are you living your best life now so to speak? There was a book that was released which bore the tile “Living Your Best Life Now,” and yet the truth of the matter is what we have never and were never instructed, nor were we commanded to live our best life now, for if we truly deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ we will not live our best life now, for the life which we live is not even our own. If we truly deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus the Christ we will not live our best life at all, for the life which we live does not and will not belong to us at all. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was written unto the churches in Galatia. I close out and conclude this writing with the words the apostle Paul wrote in this epistle concerning his own life and the incredible and tremendous need to be crucified with Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found in this particular epistle beginning with the sixteenth verse:

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build against the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressors. For I though the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:16-21).

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