On to Jerusalem for Pentecost

acts217cOn a road trip children some children (and adults) keep a journal. Luke seems to have kept one as he accompanied the Apostle Paul as he neared the end of his third missionary journey, recorded in Acts 20:1-16.

Walk the path your Savior walked. Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. Following the uproar in Ephesus, he traveled to Macedonia, Greece, and surrounding areas. This may have included other extensive missionary work, Romans 15:19. During this time he also wrote 1 Corinthians while Ephesus, 2 Corinthians from Macedonia, and Romans from Corinth or Cenchrea. Luke is present as this is a “we” passage. Luke had recorded a journey in his first volume (Luke 9:51; 13:22; 19:28), with which he may be drawing a parallel. The journeys share a conviction of coming suffering, Luke 18:31; Acts 20:22. Paul’s suffering is not redemptive, nor is yours, but if you are a joint heir of Christ, expect to suffer with him. You may not be on a road trip, but you are journeying through life. You have a destination in view.

Live in the power of the Spirit. Though expecting suffering, Paul was calm as he knew that God was in control. The resurrection of Eutychus must have reassured, not only the saints in Troas, but Paul himself. God, not the goddess of fortune, controlls all and is the author of life. The miracle is more than something to marvel at. It reminds you of the raising of Dorcas, and of the miracles of Elisha and Elijah. “Jesus’ resurrection power flowed through his servant, and Paul restored the boy alive to those who loved him, just as Jesus himself had raised and returned a young man to his mourning mother. (Luke 7:11-15; see also Acts 9:36-41)” Dennis E. Johnson, Let’s Study Acts, p. 249). The Lord of Life is your confidence, not only as you face death, but as you seek to live each day to the glory of your Lord. Earlier in Ephesus the presence of the Spirit had accompanied those who learned of and trusted in the Savior who had completed his redemptive work. In Acts 20 the Spirit is in view as Paul has the feast of Pentecost as the marker of when he hopes to reach Jerusalem. God is faithful to his people. In the miracle the life-giving power of the Spirit takes on visible form. The miracle at Troas may wow you, but don’t overlook the quieter way he works through the ordinary means of grace. This is worship on the first day of the week. It includes the preaching of the Word by Paul, and the breaking of the bread. The power of the Spirit is evident in the generous provision for the suffering church at Jerusaelm.

The Spirit, given at Pentecost, draws people to himself. In Acts 2:5-11 Paul records the gift of the Spirit as witnessed by the gathering of Jews and God-fearers. He has recorded the spread of the gospel, growing like rings from a pebble dropped in a pond. Now the ripples begin to bounce back. The church is more than individual congregations. The suffering of the church at Jerusalem draws gifts from a number of the mission churches, and brothers from those churches accompany Paul as he carries the gift, Romans 15:25-29; 1 Corinthians 16:4; 2 Corinthians 8:16-21. Notice the places from which Paul’s companions come, Acts 20:4. The Spirit, given at Pentecost, is working in the lives of God’s people. Is it working in your life?

Do not let the suffering you face blind you to the presence and powerful working of the exalted Lord who is life-giving Spirit.

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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