Today’s selected reading continues in the scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ, which is the church as it was written and recorded within the book of Acts by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the thirty-seventh verse of the twenty-first chapter and continues through to the twenty-third verse of the twenty-second chapter. A SECOND RIOT! IN THE STEPS OF THE MASTER! WHAT IF WALKING WITH THE MASTER LEADS YOU TO JERUSALEM? WHAT IF FOLLOWING THE MESSIAH LEADS YOU BACK TO WHERE IT ALL STARTED? WHEN RETURNING HOME IS A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE! THIS DOESN’T FEEL LIKE HOME ANYMORE! ENRAGING AND INFURIATING JERUSALEM! ASSAULTED BY THE MOB AND BOUND BY THE GUARDS! COMING FACE TO FACE WITH THE COST OF THE GOSPEL! WHEN THE GOSPEL UPENDS THE CITY! WHEN THE GOSPEL DIVIDES A CITY! DEFENDING THE GOSPEL! DEFENDING THE TESTIMONY! WHEN THE GOSPEL THREATENS AND OFFENDS! THE OFFENSIVE, THREATENING, DIVISIVE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL! BEATEN AND BOUND! When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle Paul having now been bound with two chains by the chief captain of the guard and soldiers whom he had enlisted upon hearing of the uproar that had taken place in Jerusalem. The twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts is quite remarkable when you consider it from beginning to end, for the chapter begins with the apostle Paul setting sail from Miletus where he met with the elders of the Ephesian church. It would be during this tearful and emotional exchange the apostle Paul would emphatically declared unto them that he goes bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem not knowing what would befall and come upon him there. The only thing the apostle knew for certain was that the Holy Spirit witnessed and testified that bonds and afflictions abide in him in every city he traveled and journeyed to. The words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the elders of the Ephesian church are quite unique and astonishing for they served as the backdrop and foundation for what we find within the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the book of Acts. It is within these two chapters where you will find the apostle Paul coming unto Jerusalem with certain of his companions and being received of and by the brethren. It would be upon coming unto the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul would be informed of the thousands of Jews within the city who believed, and how they had heard of his work and ministry unto the Gentiles. As Paul entered into and came unto the city of Jerusalem he would be asked to purify himself—together with four other men—in order that he might give an account for his work and ministry among the Gentiles. What’s more is the elders and brethren in Jerusalem spoke unto the apostle Paul about his speaking unto those he encountered and how he was declaring unto the Jews that they no longer needed to obey and fulfill the Law of Moses. Moreover, they spoke unto the apostle Paul about their hearing he was declaring unto the Jews that they no longer needed to observer the covenant and rite of circumcision, and that they were no longer bound to the law of Moses. How absolutely incredible and intriguing it is to consider the words which were spoken unto the apostle Paul upon returning and arriving in Jerusalem and the chain of events that would be triggered and set off by his arrival.
If you read the words which are found in the exchange the apostle Paul had with the Ephesian elders you will find him emphatically declaring unto that he was going bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem and that he knew not what awaited him when he came unto the city. The only thing the apostle Paul was sure and certain of was that in every city where unto he traveled Honda and afflictions would abide in him. These words are actually quite unique—particularly and especially when you consider what took place in Caesarea when the apostle Paul and his companions came unto the house of Philip the evangelist who was one of the seven deacons of the church. It would be while at the house of Philip the evangelist that his daughters which were present there would prophesy. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found within the opening of the twenty-first chapter you will find a prophet named Agabus coming from Judaea unto the house of Philip and taking the apostle Paul’s own girdle and wrapping and binding himself with it. It would be while bound with this girdle this prophet would declare unto the apostle Paul and to all those who were present that so would the man who owned this girdle be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles. As you continue reading the account and exchange which took place in the house of Philip the evangelist you will find that those who were with the apostle Paul wept and begged the apostle Paul not to travel and journey down to the city of Jerusalem. It’s worth noting the response of the apostle Paul, for the apostle Paul asked them why they would break his heart as he was not only willing to be bound in Jerusalem, but also to die in Jerusalem. These words would echo and coincide with the words which he spoke unto the elders of the Ephesian church, for when speaking unto them he declared that he counted not his life as fear unto himself in order that he might obtain the prize that was laid up and prepared for him. These words would be further echoed in the third chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints and believers, for he declared unto them how he desired to be made comformable to the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ in order that he might attain unto his resurrection. What’s more, is that if you read the eleventh and twelfth chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints and congregation you will find the apostle emphatically declaring that if he must needs boasts and glory he would do so in his weaknesses and in his infirmities. For the apostle Paul, his infirmities, his weaknesses, his struggles, his trials and troubles were nothing compared the grace of Christ which was sufficient for him, and the strength of Christ which was made perfect in his weakness. For the apostle Paul the present sufferings of this life were nothing compared to the reads which he would find and receive when he was promoted from this life to the kingdom of God in Heaven.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but read and consider the words which are written and recorded within the twentieth, twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the book of Acts and come face to face with the wonderful reality that the apostle Paul knew and understood that he must need return again unto Jerusalem and that he would go unto Jerusalem bound in the spirit. The apostle Paul knew what Jesus the Christ had spoken unto him and what the Holy Spirit had testified unto him concerning bonds and afflictions abiding him in every city and he was ready and prepared to face and encounter everything that would be thrust against and upon him wherever he went. The duration I can’t help but ask myself—and evening you who are reading the words found within this writing—is what has Jesus the Christ spoken unto us concerning our lives. If you continue reading and come unto the twenty-second chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul standing bound before the people and giving a defense before them. It would be while standing and speaking before the people in Jerusalem the apostle Paul would not only recount his conversion experience, but also that which Jesus had spoken to him early on after he was called and chosen by the resurrected and exalted Christ to testify unto the Gentiles. It’s absolutely worth noting and considering what you find in the twenty-second chapter of the book of Acts, for when you find and read the apostle Paul standing bound before those who sought to put him to death you will find him speaking unto them concerning his origin in the city of Jerusalem and how he had left Jerusalem to travel and journey unto Damascus with letters from the high priest to go unto Damascus and being bound any of those whom he found who were followers of the way of Jesus the Christ. In the opening of the defense of the apostle Paul before the people you will find him also speaking of his time in Jerusalem and how he had not only trained under Gamaliel, but also how he had wreaked havoc upon and persecuted the church of Jesus the Christ there in the city. If you read the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the angry mob of Jews who sought to put him to death you will find him beginning by speaking of his time in Jerusalem—a time before Christ, and a time before he He had encountered him on the road to Damascus. As you read the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the angry mob which sought to put him to death you will find that he began speaking unto them of what his life was like prior to being encountered and apprehended by the Lord Jesus the Christ, and prior to being called and chosen by Jesus the Christ to be his faithful minister of the gospel unto the Gentiles. When speaking before and unto the angry mob the apostle Paul sought not to defend himself, but rather to testify of that which Jesus the Christ had done in his life—that which Jesus the Christ had called and chosen him from, and that which Jesus the Christ had called him to.
In order to truly understand that which is found and written in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the book of Acts it is necessary to first understand and recognize the tremendous fact that for the apostle Paul there was a wonderful and powerful sense of urgency to make his way unto the city of Jerusalem. For the apostle Paul it wasn’t even a matter of wanting or desiring to go unto the city of Jerusalem, but rather a matter or necessity as he declared that he went bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem not knowing that which would befall him there. It’s quite unique and interesting to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul knew and understood that he needed to make his way unto the city of Jerusalem, and he knew that his walk with Jesus the Christ would lead him unto Jerusalem, but he initially did not know what would await and befall him there in Jerusalem. It’s actually quite unique and interesting to think about and consider the fact that when the apostle Paul entered into Jerusalem—and after seven days of purification—he would be in the Temple on the Temple Mount with those four brethren who themselves had been purified according to the Jewish law and that which was mandated. This is quite interesting, for although the apostle Paul knew that he must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem, he did not yet know what would await and befall him there. He did know that the spirit testified and bore witness that there abided in him bonds and afflictions in every city he went, but as it pertained to the city of Jerusalem he had absolutely no clue what would come upon him there. What I find to be so absolutely astonishing is the significance of where the apostle Paul would end up upon arriving in Jerusalem, for he would be in the Temple on the very Temple Mount where there was so much history among the Jewish people. There is something about a journey unto Jerusalem that might very well and ultimately lead you to a place of worship, but it will also lead you to a place of testing, a place of trial and a place of surrender and sacrifice before and unto the living God. If you study the history of the Jewish people you will find that the site of the Temple Mount was one that had tremendous significance and importance, for not only was it directly linked and connected to Abraham who was the patriarch and founding father of the Jewish people and all those of the faith, but it was also linked and directly connected to David king of Israel whose throne Jesus the Christ Himself would one day sit and reign upon. When I think about and consider the reality of the apostle Paul making his way unto the city of Jerusalem I can’t help but be absolutely struck by the fact that he would be brought to the place of sacrifice and surrender, as well as the place of trial and testing. With that being said, we must recognize and understand that it would be in this place of worship, it would be in this place of sacrifice and surrender, and in this place of trial and testing the apostle Paul would find and experience such tremendous unrest, such tremendous opposition, and such great affliction and trouble. WHEN DIVISION MANIFESTS ITSELF IN THE PLACE OF WORSHIP! WHEN AFFLICTION MANIFESTS ITSELF IN THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE! WHEN TROUBLE MANIFESTS ITSELF IN THE PLACE OF TESTING.
As you move forward and progress in this writing I feel a great need for you to consider the account of Abraham when after the Lord had fulfilled the promise to grant unto him a son, he then brought Abraham into a place of testing as He would ask Abraham to take his one and only son Isaac whom he loved and sacrifice him in the place He Himself would show him. I feel it is of great and tremendous importance that we recognize and understand the incredible significance and importance of the city of Jerusalem and the history of it in the Old Testament—as well as what we find concerning our own Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ—for only when we understand the history and significance of Jerusalem for these three man can we understand the journey the apostle Paul made to the city, and that which would come upon and befall him there in the city. The apostle Paul would himself arrive and return unto the city of Jerusalem, and it would be in the city of Jerusalem where he would come unto the Temple, yet it would also be there at the Temple the apostle Paul would find division, unrest, opposition, affliction, trouble, and the like. When the apostle Paul would come unto the Temple as a sign of the completion of the purification which he and the four brothers with him had completed, he would find there at the Temple a tremendous unrest and division from the Jews of Asia—perhaps those same Jews who had vehemently opposed him during his time among the Gentiles. What’s quite interesting and worth noting is that one of the realities surrounding the life of the apostle Paul is that there were times when the brethren would move him from the places where he experienced opposition, affliction and trouble in order that they might save and spare him from those who would kill and destroy him. If you journey back to the seventeenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul in the city of Thessalonica, and how there in the city of Thessalonica there would be Jews which would rise up against him in opposition, and who would incite the whole city in an uproar against the apostle Paul and the doctrine and gospel he preached. What’s more, is the Jews which were in Asia and in Thessalonica would incite a mass amount of confusion and chaos there in the city—so much so that the brethren would move the apostle Paul from that place and bring him unto Berea. Of course, as you continue reading in the seventeenth chapter you will find that the apostle Paul did in fact preach the gospel there in the city of Berea, but when the Jews who were in Thessalonica heard and discovered that the word of the Lord Jesus was being preached in Berea by the apostle Paul, they came down unto Berea and incited an uproar and unrest there in the city as well. While the brethren sought to remove the apostle Paul from trouble, from suffering, from affliction, from opposition, and from the chaos there in the city, it would ultimately end up following the apostle Paul into Berea, and would force the apostle Paul from Berea unto the city of Athens. The reason I mention this particular reality is because when you read the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find that the opposition and affliction the apostle Paul faced while ministering among the cities in Asia would ultimately and inevitably find him there in the city of Jerusalem. It would be very easy to think that the apostle Paul would and could have entered into the city of Jerusalem and would somehow escape and avoid the same opposition and affliction which the Jews presented in the cities of Asia, however, the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t and wasn’t the case, as the Jews which were in Asia would bring their unrest and their division to the city of Jerusalem.
With that being said I feel it necessary to bring and call your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is within this Old Testament book that we find and read the account of Abraham after his son Isaac had been born and had now had the chance to grow up. We don’t know how long after Isaac was born the Lord sought to test and tempt Abraham, for the only thing Scripture states is that “it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.” We know absolutely nothing of the time frame of this desire of the Lord to tempt Abraham—only that the Lord had sought to tempt Abraham concerning his son Isaac whom he loved. Beginning with the first verse of the twenty-second chapter you will find the following words which were written by Moses concerning Abraham and the Lord tempting him concerning his son Isaac whom he loved. [As a side note there is something to be said about a God who can and will tempt us concerning that thing which we love, or perhaps even that person whom we love. There is something about a God who can and will tempt us according to those things which we love, and may very well call us to sacrifice them upon the altar before Him. If there is one thing we find and read concerning this passage in the Old Testament book of Genesis, it’s that the living God can and will tempt and test us according to that which we love, and that which we hold dear and precious unto us]. Consider if you will the words which are found in the twenty-second chapter of the book of Genesis beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men,A bide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again unto you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where it eh lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the. Knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:1-14).
That which we find in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis is of tremendous importance, for it would be this mountain in Moriah or Mount Moriah which Jerusalem itself would be founded upon, and it would be in this place and on this mountain where the Temple of the Lord would be built, and where the altar of the Lord would be set up and established. It would be in this place of tempting and testing in the life of Abraham that the altar of the Lord would be set up and established, as well as the place of the Ark of the Covenant, which would be the Holy of Holies. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the significance of this mountain in Moriah, for it would be this place in Moriah the Temple of the Lord—the very Temple the apostle Paul would one day stand that the Lord would tempt Abraham concerning his son Isaac whom he loved. What’s more, is that if you continue reading in the Old Testament and come unto the twenty-first chapter of the book of First Chronicles you will find the account of David after he had displeased and angered the Lord by numbering the people of Israel. In response to David’s sin and transgression the Lord would send an angel of the Lord within and upon the city of Jerusalem— a plague which would ill and destroy countless within the city of Jerusalem. Eventually and ultimately the plague would be stopped and stayed, but only when David would heed the word and command of the Lord and go unto the threshing floor of Ornan and offer a sacrifice before and unto the living God. If you begin reading with and from the eighteenth verse of the twenty-first chapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles you will find the following words which were written concerning the threshing floor of Ornan, and that which David was instructed and commanded to do:
“Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David went up at the saying god Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord. And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat. And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshing floor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people. And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I gave thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all. And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily but it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost. So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight. And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof. At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there. For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibson. But David could not go before it to inquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:18-30).
As you read both of these passages of Scripture you will come face to face with the incredible and awesome reality of the significance of the place where on the Temple of the Lord sat, for it would be on this place where Abraham would lay his son Isaac whom he loved upon the altar and would have sacrificed him there were it not for the divine intervention of the living God who spoke and called out to him from heaven. What’s more, is that it would be in this place where the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite would have a threshing floor, and it would be that threshing floor which David would purchase from him for six hundred shekels of silver in order that he might offer a sacrifice unto the living God. As a side note it’s important for us to recognize and consider that when the fire of God fell from heaven during the days and time of Solomon the son of David, it was not the first time fire came down from heaven in that place and consumed the sacrifice. If you read the words which are found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the book of Second Chronicles you will find the dedication of the Temple which Solomon had built for and unto the Lord, and how the Lord answered from heaven by sending fire down upon the altar and the sacrifices which were upon the altar. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that here in the place where the apostle Paul—not only would it be in that place where Abraham would be tempted of the Lord to sacrifice his son Isaac, but it would also be in that place where David would purchase the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, would build an altar unto the Lord, and would sacrifice a burnt offering unto the Lord. Even more than this, it would be in this place where Solomon would build the Temple of the Lord where the altar of the Lord would abide, and where the Holy of Holies would house the Ark of the Covenant. Furthermore, it would be in this place the fire of God would fall and come down from heaven and would consume the sacrifice upon the altar—not once, but twice in the matter of two generations. When we read the account of the apostle Paul standing in the Temple which was in the place where Abraham and David once stood, it’s quite unique and interesting to think that it was in that place of sacrifice and surrender, and it would be in that place of testing and temptation that he would find himself standing before an angry mob who would seek to kill and put him to death. It would be in that place where the the angel of the Lord spoke unto Abraham not to lay a hand on his son, nor do any thing to him, and it was in that place where the fire of the Lord would come down from heaven upon the altar that the apostle Paul would stand bound by two chains and guarded by guards to protect him from a mob which sought to kill and put him to death. What’s more—and as if this weren’t enough—it would be in this same city where Jesus the Christ would also stand bound by chains and would stand before an angry mob which would cry out unto Pilate to crucify Him and put Him to death. Here where the apostle Paul stood His Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ—the One whom he walked with and followed—also stood as He was accused by a people who could and would not receive him, but instead demanded Him be crucified and put to death.
SHARING THE STAGE WITH CHRIST! SHARING CHAINS WITH CHRIST! SHARING BONDS WITH CHRIST! SHARING THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST! STANDING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SUFFERING! STANDING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF OPPOSITION AND AFFLICTION! I find it absolutely incredible to think about and consider the fact that here in the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul would stand in the very same city where his Lord stood falsely accused by those who vehemently hated and opposed Him. I can’t help but be absolutely captivated and gripped with and by the fact that the apostle Paul would walk with and follow Jesus the Christ, and how walking with and following Jesus the Christ would lead him to the very place where His Lord would stand accused, bound by chains, and condemned to death. It’s truly astonishing and remarkable to consider the fact that walking with Jesus the Christ would ultimately and inevitably lead the apostle Paul to the same stage which Christ Himself stood as He was accused by an angry mob who sought to have Him put to death. It would be the apostle Paul who would in fact state and declare when writing unto the saints which were at Philippi that he sought to partake in the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus Christ and that he might be made conformable unto His death. Here in this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul standing in the same city where his Lord and Savior stood bound by chains and guarded by guards as He would be accused by religion and as His blood would be cried out for by those who would and could not receive Him. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would walk with and follow Jesus the Christ, and how by walking with and following Jesus the Christ he would ultimately find himself back in Jerusalem where it would all begin for him having been bound by two chains and guarded by guards as he stood before an angry mob which cried out for his death and removal from the land. I can’t help but wonder what it was like as the apostle Paul would stand there before and in front of the angry mob who sought for his death, as he had been bound by two chains and was heavily guarded by guards to protect him from the mob. If and as you come to the end of the twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul—not only standing bound with two chains, but you will also find him guarded heavily by soldiers and centurions to guard and protect him from the mob which was certainly in an uproar within the city. What’s more, is that the beloved physician Luke wrote that when the city was moved, and the people ran together, they took Paul and drew him out of the Temple and shut the doors. As they went about and sought to kill him, report and word came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar, who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran unto them. It would be the arrival of the soldiers and centurions that those who sought to beat the apostle Paul would cease beating the apostle and would disburse. What follows after is the chief captain commanding Paul to be bound with two chains and immediately demanded who he was and what he had done. What you will find at this time was tremendous confusion among the people of Jerusalem, for some cried one thing, some another, and the chief captain could not at all confirm what this man had done, nor what the cause of the tumult and uproar was. The apostle Paul was commanded to be brought and carried into the castle, and when he came to the stairs, he was born of the soldiers for the violence of the people, for they all followed after crying, “Away with him.”
The twenty-first chapter of the book of Acts ends and concludes with the apostle Paul still bound with two chains, and still heavily guarded by soldiers and centurions, and yet requesting that he be able to speak to and unto the people in the city who sought to kill and put him to death. This is actually quite unique and intriguing when you consider it, for here the apostle Paul stood bound by chains, guarded by centurions and soldiers, and yet he requested permission to speak unto the people—the same people who sought to put him to death. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of the significance of this incredible reality, for when you read the words which the apostle Paul had spoken unto the mob of Jews who sought to put him to death, you will find him giving an account of that which Jesus the Christ had done within his life. As the apostle Paul stood before the angry mob and began speaking unto them he began speaking unto them considering his zealousness concerning the law of Moses, and how he had trained under Gamaliel who was one of the chief Pharisees there in the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul emphatically declared unto them that he was a man which was a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in the city of Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers. What’s more, the apostle Paul would also declare that he was zealous toward God, as they were on that day, and went about persecuting the way of the Christians and of Christ unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. Even more than this, the high priest bore him witness—as well as the estate of the elders—that he received letters authorizing him to go unto Damascus to bring those which were there and of the way bound unto Jerusalem to be punished for walking in and following the way. The apostle Paul would begin speaking unto the people who sought to accuse and condemn him that his journey began in the city of Jerusalem, and that at one point he too was zealous for the law, and so much so that he even persecuted the church of Jesus Christ and went so far as to Damascus to imprison and punish those who were followers of the way. According to the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, he would be encountered along the way to Damascus and would be blinded by a great and brilliant light, as Jesus would not only ask why he was persecuting him, but would also declare unto him that He was Jesus whom he was persecuting. The encounter on the road to Damascus would end with Jesus the Christ speaking unto Saul and instructing him to go into Damascus, and there in Damascus it would be told him of all the things were and had been appointed for him to do. Immediately the apostle Paul would be led by those who were with him into the city of Damascus for he could not see having been blinded by the great and brilliant light which shone round about him there on the road. It would be there in Damascus the apostle Paul would encounter Ananias who would not only lay hands on the apostle Paul and pray that he would receive his sight, but would also declare unto him that the God of their fathers had chosen him, that he should know His will, and see that Just One, and should hear the voice of His mouth. What’s more, the apostle Paul would be told that he would be His witness unto all men of those things which he had seen and heard. Immediately the apostle Paul would arise, would be baptized, would have his sins washed away, would be baptized by the Spirit, and would begin calling on the name of the Lord.
As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul coming unto Jerusalem knowing that he would be bound by the Jews and would ultimately be handed over to the Gentiles just as his Lord Jesus the Christ had been. Regardless of and despite the fact that the apostle Paul knew what would come upon him there in the city of Jerusalem, he chose to make the journey unto Jerusalem anyway, thus indicating that he did not count his life as being dear unto him, in order that he might obtain the prize and crown that was laid up for him. Oh how intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul knew that bonds and afflictions abided him in every city he went, and he knew that in Jerusalem he would be bound by the Jews and would be handed over to the Gentiles, and yet he deliberately, purposefully and intentionally chose to make the journey. Oh the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we would be willing to make a similar journey in our lives. Do we count our lives as being so dear to us that we would hold on to it, or do we count our lives as loss for the surpassing greatness of Jesus the Christ in order that we might obtain the prize and crown which is laid up before us? We have been given this life—this one single life—to steward over, and yet the single greatest way we can steward it in a manner that pleases the living God is to surrender and sacrifice it. The only way we can truly and effectively steward this life in a manner that pleases the living God is to let it go and to lay it down as we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that this life has never and will never belong to us, and that we have absolutely no right or claim over it. Oh how drastically different our lives would be if we began realizing and recognizing that it has never belonged and will never belong to us, and that we have absolutely no claim and no right to it. Oh that we would come to the understanding that this life—this single life we have been given—does not belong to us, and the single greatest way we can truly, properly and effectively steward over it is to lay it down and let it go knowing that it has never belonged and will never belong to us.