- Acts 26: 28 Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?” How much better of a story would it have made if Agrippa had been more open to the gospel – maybe if he had converted to Jesus on the spot after such a great presentation of the gospel and Paul’s testimony? However, as it happens, apparently Agrippa wasn’t particularly moved, and Luke tells us this quite simply. It would have been a better book if Agrippa had converted, but this isn’t fiction, it’s reliable history.
- Acts 27:24 ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. It is necessary for you to appear before Caesar.” An angel comes and comforts Paul in the midst of a terrible sea-storm, when it looks like everybody is going to die. The angel tells Paul to not be afraid, because he was ordained to appear before Caesar – the most powerful ruler in the world at the time. So – now it all makes sense, right Luke? Paul’s friends try to tell him to not go to Jerusalem and warn him, but Paul goes anyway. James attempts a very strange scheme to convince newly converted Jewish believers that Paul follows the law religiously, but this backfires and Paul is arrested. How neat of a bow would this have been on the whole story if all of this led up to Paul speaking before the great Caesar and proclaiming the good news to him – what a CLIMAX, right? Only, as we’ll find out tomorrow…that’s not at all how Acts ends, is it? Luke doesn’t record whether or not Paul ever speaks to Caesar! It would have been such a perfect ending to the book – thinking as a writer – but apparently as of the date of when Acts was completed, Paul hadn’t met with Caesar, so Luke didn’t record that he did. No embellishing of facts – no making up things – just reliable historical reporting. Good on you, Luke! We do have this one little verse from Philippians 4, however: All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. Philippians 4:22. So Paul did evangelize some in Caesar’s household. Did he eventually speak to Caesar? I believe he did, but the Bible doesn’t record it.
Let’s read our passage and see how God fulfills His promises!
Here’s the promise: 23 For last night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me 24 and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. It is necessary for you to appear before Caesar. And indeed, God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 So take courage, men, because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me. Acts 27:23-25
And here’s the fulfillment:
41 But they struck a sandbar and ran the ship aground. The bow jammed fast and remained immovable, while the stern began to break up by the pounding of the waves. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners so that no one could swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion kept them from carrying out their plan because he wanted to save Paul, and so he ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to follow, some on planks and some on debris from the ship. In this way, everyone safely reached the shore. Acts 27:41-44
What happened between the promise and the fulfilment? SO MUCH! The boat crashed and was dashed to pieces by the waves. The prisoners were almost killed by the soldiers, and EVERYBODY had to somehow swim to shore in no doubt shark-infested waters (with probably a LOT of them who couldn’t swim)…and yet every one of them made it safely. God keeps His promises – full stop. But sometimes, in the midst of His keeping His promises, the ship is going to break up, and things are going to look very, very dire. Trust in His faithfulness even during those shipwrecks. He is utterly trustworthy. And absolutely unpredictable. Reminds me of the Beaver’s wonderful observation about Aslan in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (remembering, of course, that Aslan is analogous to Jesus):
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
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