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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Acts 27 – Paul at sea, but not all at sea

Paul is now on his journey to Rome as the ambassador of the permanent King with a message for the temporary one called Caesar. Unlike Caesar, Jesus not only controls the lives of people, he also is in charge of the elements, including the sea. So would we expect Jesus to give his ambassador a comfortable voyage, the ancient equivalent of a business class ticket, or would he use the voyage to prove the credibility of his word? Luke goes into great detail concerning the answer to that question.

While the good doctor mentions in detail the words that Paul spoke about the storm, he also mentions in little asides other opportunities that the apostle had to speak his Master’s word. Although this journey is not one of Paul’s missionary journeys he had the opportunity when the ship called at different places to preach to Christians and others living there. I suppose we could say that Paul, while fulfilling the big task of getting to Rome, did not forget the smaller opportunities that came his way.

The story informs us how Jesus can ensure that subsequent providences will confirm the message he gives to his servant even about non-spiritual activities. We can see this was the case with what happened to the ship and the people on board. And we should observe how Paul cared about the physical needs of those on the ship even although they had not responded to his message. After all, he had prayed for them (v. 24), and often prayer and compassion go together.

What does this frightening period of storms at sea say to us about Jesus. Here are three brief thoughts. First, Jesus can take us through storms, no matter how fierce they are. Second, Jesus often takes us through storms to fulfil a particular purpose he has for us. Third, Jesus can use storms to get respect for his ambassador from those who are not believers.

Paul challenges us to trust in God and pray to him as we proceed through our lives. The apostle knew that he would get to Rome, although until he prayed during the storm he did not know if this boat would take him there. While we may not experience an angel delivering the answer in such a specific manner, we should still make prayer a priority.

No doubt, this experience helped Paul prepare for whatever troubles lay ahead of him in Rome. Even as Paul travelled through the storm, Jesus was continuing his work of transformation in his servant and preparing him for his future.  

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