Acts 21:13 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.”
I have heard a wide variety of opinions about this verse. Some have said this shows Paul’s stubborn streak, and that had he listened to the warnings he wouldn’t have been arrested and thus would have had many more years of productive ministry than actually was the case. However, it was precisely while he was imprisoned that Paul wrote many of the letters that are now included in the New Testament. Had he not gone through that, he might not have been tempered to the point that he could write those letters. Also, as I have written recently, it was while Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea that Luke at least did the research and probably did the writing of the Gospel that bears his name. I personally feel this was all part of God’s perfect plan, just as the cross of Jesus was, and He was giving Paul these repeated warnings so that he wouldn’t be shocked when it all happened. It is a sign of the strength of Paul’s faith that he kept going despite the warnings. Most of us would cut and run! Paul’s hope and treasure were in Christ alone, and that was fine with him.
I have been pushed this direction by my upbringing in a missionary household, but this sort of thing always comes down to individual commitment. I have certainly been pulled and pushed by various things in and of this world, but I find myself more and more in agreement with the attitude Paul expresses here. As the old song says, “This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.” I do enjoy life in many ways, but at the same time I am increasingly aware that it is all temporary, and what awaits me is far better than anything here. Life in Christ is more than worth anything I might have to endure here. That doesn’t mean I enjoy, much less seek out, pain, either physical or emotional. I get enough of that! However, as Paul said, “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) I am to receive each day from the Lord’s hand and rejoice in it, whatever it holds. At the same time I am to expect great and good things from my Lord, because He doesn’t allow anything in our lives that He can’t or won’t use for our blessing and the blessing of others, for His glory. (Romans 8:28)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Life these days is quite a jumble of promising, hopeful things and unpleasant, depressing things. Help me keep my heart fixed on Jesus in full trust, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in Him, just as You have told me to do, so that I will be available at all times as Your agent to do whatever You desire, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!