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I WILL FOLLOW


 
 

BIBLE READING



 

ACTS 21

 

After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Kos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4 We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. 6 After saying goodbye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.


7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed with them for a day. 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.


10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

15 After this, we started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.


17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.


20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”


26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.


27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)


30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.


33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”

 

I WILL FOLLOW

 

Chapter 21 records the story about the prophet Agabus who came down from Judea. He took Paul's belt and bound his own hands and feet to indicate that Paul would be bound and delivered to the Gentiles in Jerusalem, as the Holy Spirit revealed. He was dead right. This is what was going to happen and both Paul’s travelling companions and those in Caesarea pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But Paul is insistent that he is going all the way even though it seems like the travels are over and Paul is coming to the "crunch" of his call with this final farewell.


When Paul arrives in Jerusalem, he is seized by an angry crowd who aren’t just set on roughing him up a bit; they wanted to kill him. Paul had been near death because of the attacks of murderous mobs before, and each time God preserved him, for Paul knew he was destined for Rome. Paul's only desire is to follow Jesus and one can’t help but notice how like Jesus he has become.


Paul’s life, especially in this chapter, seems to reflect the final days of Jesus earthly ministry. Both were determined to go to Jerusalem, even in the face of danger, even when others warned them against it. Both were bound and arrested. Both were reviled by the angry Jewish crowds (I. Howard Marshall, Acts: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries). Although Paul would not be immediately executed in this particular situation, we see that he had made up his mind to take up his cross and to follow Jesus, even if that meant following Him to death. In Paul’s own words “For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”


I am challenged when I read about Paul, as I recognize that I am called to follow Jesus also. We all are! I wonder as Jesus followers, if we should expect the events in our lives to resemble the events in Jesus' life. Here is what I mean, that in our lives as we witness in Jesus life; there may be a time of temptation in the wilderness, a time when people come to us with needs only God can meet, a time when we seem powerless against a storm, a time when we must cry out to God as intensely as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, a time when we must simply lay down our lives and trust God will magnificently raise us up.


As I am writing this devotional, I hear the words of the Chris Tomlin song,

I Will Follow, you may remember that our GEMS sang it for us a couple years ago. The song goes,


Where You go, I'll go Where You stay, I'll stay When You move, I'll move I will follow You Who You love, I'll love How You serve I'll serve If this life I lose, I will follow You I will follow You


 


Jesus, if You call me I will go, if You lead me I will follow, if You show me I will learn, if You rebuke me I will turn, if You speak I will hear, if You beckon I will draw near. Amen


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