Friday, December 21, 2007

Acts, Chapter 28

Life's a journey, not a destination. I first heard those words in 1993 off of the Aerosmith album Get a Grip and the song Amazing. Since that time, I have tried to ponder those words and their meaning. In the ensuing 14 years they have meant a variety of things, but the underlying message is that you cannot be so caught up in getting somewhere that you forget to take advantage of opportunities along the way. That is what Paul has done during his entire journey to Rome. Instead of being so focused on the goal of getting to Rome and preparing himself for his ministry once he got there, he took advantage of the opportunities given along the way.

As we finish our walk through Acts today, I encourage you to look at it from a different perspective as I have tried to. Acts is more than a collection of stories about going to this place or that place and accomplishing this thing or that thing. It is an account of making the most of every opportunity along the way instead of focusing solely on the destination. Here in Chapter 28 we see both, as Paul ministers for the few months he was on Malta, before finally reaching his goal of Rome.

7There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed. – Acts 28:7-10

Paul could have sat back and waited for Rome here, but instead he chose to continue taking advantage of every opportunity to minister. As a result, the group received the supplies they needed and were furthered on in their journey to Rome. Paul must have been the most polite and respected prisoner in the history. He was never bitter and actually helped those who were holding him captive instead of feeling resentment towards them. Just look at the dividends this attitude paid for everyone by giving them the supplies they needed.

25They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
 26" 'Go to this people and say,
   "You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
      you will be ever seeing but never perceiving."
 27For this people's heart has become calloused;
      they hardly hear with their ears,
      and they have closed their eyes.
   Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
      hear with their ears,
      understand with their hearts
   and turn, and I would heal them.' 28"Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!" 30For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. – Acts 28:25-30

This was more than a simple journey for one man to the center of the known world. This was the fulfillment of a promise made all the way back in the book of Isaiah, hundreds of years before! We are asked to test the Word of God to see its truth, well, I would say the fulfillment of a promise and a prophecy as mundane as this one is a good test. When Isaiah wrote these words originally he did not know Paul, nor did he know of his mission, but he did know that the message would be spoken by someone like him eventually.

Of course, this is also the destination for Paul, and considering the zeal at which he fulfilled the journey, what he does in Rome is escalated even further because of the importance of the destination. Here is where many of his letters were written and where he completed his most important work. Amazingly, that work continues to echo through the centuries because of what he wrote.


  1. What has stood out to you the most from Acts?
  2. How can you focus more on the journey instead of the destination?
  3. Is it possible for a calloused heart to become uncalloused?

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