“After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27.21-26
This story of Paul and his journey on the ship to Rome is an amazing one. I encourage you to pause here and read the whole of Acts 27. The difficulties he faced not only in his persecution of the faith but now in his travels on sea seemed insurmountable. But through it all Paul keeps the faith. Through the difficult voyage, Paul remains a leader and testifies to Christ even when all seems lost. (Take a moment to read the whole chapter and come back to this.)
In this segment, the men aboard the ship (276 of them) had thrown over much cargo, had gone without food, and were extremely beaten down and travel weary. For fourteen days they had not eaten a meal, and were worried sick that they would die. But Paul testifies to an encounter with an angel of God who said, “You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” Even though these soldiers were there to take Caesar and potentially his life, God was willing to spare Paul’s captors. In one mighty wind God could have killed the soldiers and saved Paul, but his work was not complete. Paul was taking the message of the Gospel to the center of the Roman world — and from there, Jesus would be made known to all people.
It seems like a lot of work to preach a sermon to the leader of one of the greatest empires of all time. But through this strategy, Rome itself would become one of the western centers for the faith- even until this day. What Paul would take to Rome would indeed impact the nations.
Isn’t it amazing what lengths God goes to in order to make his Gospel known? Paul was shipwrecked and his life was spared so that people might hear the good news. God does not promise an easily life, but rather calls and commissions us to spread salvation of Jesus to the ends of the earth. The blood of Jesus saves us from our sin and through the cross, all people can be redeemed. This is the message Paul wrote — “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief,” (1 Tim. 1.15, KJV).
Therefore, it is not unheard of that we might have unpleasant encounters, face persecutions of many kinds, hardships and difficulties, in order to not only represent Christ but to share his message. Jesus is working through the Church to spread his message. And he chooses to use us to do the very work of a disciple. Whether we face hardship or difficulty, Christ’s message will be made known and preached to all the world.
Have you surrendered to the call of Christ? Have you received this wonderful gift of salvation? Have you uncovered the love of the Lamb of God for all people? Have you repented of all known sin, according to the Scriptures, and found faith in Christ alone?
Why not call upon the name of Jesus? Why not become his ambassador to a world deep in need? Why not allow the Spirit of God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead to live in you?
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me. I give you praise for your goodness and your grace. Come now, Holy Spirit, I praise your name. Help me be your hands and feet that the world might know. By the blood or the Lamb, I am saved. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen