The friendships forged working alongside people in ministry are my favorite friendships. It’s how Carly and I started out! Watching Paul go on this sort of “farewell tour” stirs something in me. Saying goodbye to someone who has enriched your soul feels different. Deeply sad, mixed with deep gratitude for every moment previously granted, with hope for an eternal reunion after death is done.
Everyone was trying to talk Paul out of this trip to Jerusalem. And not just selfishly, but through the Spirit (21:4) and through prophesy (21:11). God was in the midst of them reminding Paul, “you don’t have to do this”.
In Paul’s letters, and in these speeches found in Acts, he repeatedly emphasized our salvation and adoption into God’s family not hinging on works. We aren’t to be motived by fear or duty, but by love and out of a changed heart.
Paul knew he didn’t have to go to Jerusalem. He could live a safe, long life if he played his cards right, but his life was the last thing he cared about.
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh, who are Israelites.” Romans 9:3
If he was going down, he was going down telling the Jews their Messiah had arrived and salvation was at hand.
Saul was truly free. He feared nothing. We serve the same God. We’re adopted into the same family. Do you live in this same freedom? What are you motived by? Fear and duty, or love and a changed heart?