Paul heads to Jerusalem, even though he knows danger awaits him. Even as his companions urged him not to go, Paul remained firm. So his companions finally relented.
After arriving at Jerusalem, Paul visited James and the elders. They cautioned him that Jerusalem will learn of his coming, and tell Paul to take four men under a vow and purify himself along with them. (I still don't understand the meaning of this.)
Seven days later, Jews from Asia saw him in the temple and stirred up a whole crowd to seize Paul and beat him. Word got to the tribune, who came with soldiers to arrest Paul. It was chaos–people were shouting, and nobody could learn of the facts.
Finally, Paul asked the tribune if he can speak to the people. The tribune was confused at first, supposing Paul was an Egyptian who caused some other revolt. But Paul revealed he was a Jew that spoke Greek and Hebrew. The tribune gave Paul permission to speak, and the chapter ends on a cliffhanger.
Safety vs Calling
Even though Paul knows that going to Jerusalem is dangerous, he still has the boldness to go because God is calling him to go. But his companions don't want him to go because of the danger he'll face. They know that this may be the last time they see Paul.
There's an interesting conflict here–you have Paul's boldness to fulfill God's will, and you have his companions who want to protect Paul.
Of course, God's calling reigns supreme, but sometimes we don't want to send our loved ones willingly into danger. Similar to how God tested Abraham when asking him to sacrifice Isaac, God tests Paul's companions in sacrificing Paul.
Sure, it could be part of the devil's plan to block God's will. But I do believe there is genuine love from the companions for Paul's safety.
And it's tough. Think about a time when God asked you to sacrifice your Isaac. Here are some examples:
- Letting your friend face a challenge he/she may not be ready for yet
- Sending your kid to be tested by the next trial in life
There's a very real fear of failure and fear of loss. But at the end of the day, we need to trust that God knows best.
Chaos Isn't Good For Anyone
Chaos only benefits the one that starts it. Everyone else loses.
In this case, the Jews from Asia don't like Paul, and so they stirred up the crowds. The crowds might not even know who Paul is. The tribune thought Paul was some Egyptian revolter. Everybody has a different understanding, and the Jews from Asia took advantage of the chaos to forward their own agenda.
Chaos happens when we rush to our conclusions, when we judge before taking everything into consideration.
The way to counter this is to slow down and be calm.
Once the tribune realized Paul was actually a Jew, he finally let Paul speak.
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