Jesus’ Life: Chapter 22 – Paul’s Return To Jerusalem & Imprisonment in Caesarea
Paul was advised by many of his disciples not to return to Jerusalem. Why? The Holy Spirit had revealed to them the immense dangers that awaited him!
A prophet named Agabus even came from Judea to Caesarea to forewarn him. He took Paul’s belt, tied it around his hands and feet and said, “The Holy Spirit says this: ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man whose belt this is, and will hand him over to the Gentiles'”. (Acts 21:11)
Paul said to Agabus, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be tied up but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus”. Thereafter, the disciples gave up trying to dissuade him saying, “The Lord’s will be done”. (Acts 21:13-14)
On arriving in Jerusalem, Paul and his travel companions received a warm welcome from James, the son of Alpheus who now presided (Bishop) over the church in Jerusalem, and other church elders. They also listened intensely to Paul’s encouraging report on the spread of Christianity encountered during his third missionary journey and “they praised God”. (Acts 21:20)
James and the elders then told Paul that although there were now many thousands of Christians in Jerusalem, many Jews were claiming that he was teaching “all the Jews now living among the Gentiles to abandon Moses… not to circumcise their children… or live their [Jewish] customs”. (Acts 21:21)
Together, Paul, James and the elders, asking themselves what must be done to reconcile with the Jewish people, agreed to Paul joining a group of four men in their final seven-days of a Vow of the Nazarites. It involved Paul shaving his head and offering sacrifices in a devout act of reverence to Jewish laws.
Towards the end of the seven days, when a group of Jews saw Paul in the temple area, they stirred up the crowd by accusing him of teaching against their laws and defiling their temple by bringing in heathens (Greeks)! The incensed crowd seized Paul, dragged him outside the temple courts and shut the gates. Their intention was to kill him but doing so inside the temple would be a gross defilement of their holy place!
Before the crowd could finish their evil act, news of the uproar reached the commanding officer of the soldiers stationed near the temple. They immediately rushed to the scene and when the crowd saw the oncoming soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
The commanding Officer arrested Paul and ordered the soldiers to tie him with two chains. As he took him to the barracks, the crowd followed screaming, “Away with him!” (Acts 21:36) (Acts 18:24 – 20:38)
The disciple’s words were perhaps taken from the Lord’s Prayer: “The Lord’s [Thy] will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. (Luke 22:42)
Sometimes we need to accept the dangers ahead of us in order to do God’s will!
Lord Jesus, give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen.
May Christ support us all the day long,
till the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then in his mercy
may he give us a safe lodging,
and holy rest
and peace at the last. Amen.