Acts 21

I'll never forget the inquisitive look on peoples faces. It was a typical Saturday morning. I was watching a preacher deliver a freshly brewed sermon for church, when as the pastor began to speak, they did something unusual.

They invited a member of the audience up to the stage, asked them to get on the ground, and then proceeded to kneel on their neck while preaching the rest of their sermon. Instantly the room changed. Some people thought it was a bold, creative way to pay respect to a man who’s life had recently been taken. Others took it as an insult, wondering how the pastor could be so disrespectful and insensitive.

I understood what the preacher was trying to do. I would not be comfortable getting on stage and doing something like that. Yet, I know their motive was to bring awareness to something terrible that had happened. To do so, they knew they needed to make a scene.

Making a scene is effective. This is why people make scenes all the time! Parents yell at teachers when grades aren't going well, kids throw tantrums to get their way, and anyone who works in customer service can tell you that many people deserve their own drama series on HBO. Yet, this week as I read through Acts 21, I came across a scene which reminded me a lot of that preacher.

In Acts 21 we find Paul and some of his companions in a new town to preach. It was a busy time. They had been to many places sharing the gospel, and we're gearing up to preach to new crowds. Yet as they were preparing, the text says something strange happened.

“A prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

Agabus, a prophet from Judea, rolled up on Paul, snatched his belt, tied up his own hands and feet, and then proceeded to prophesy about his future. Strange story, am I right?
It may not be a scene like the one I saw in church that day, but it definitely has the same drama factor. And when I first read this story, I could only imagine what it would have been like to be in the room that day. I'm sure Paul's companions were looking around and wondering what in the world was going on. But see, as surprising as Agabus’s actions were that day, I think what surprised everyone the most, was how Paul responded to him.

The text says in 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.”

When faced with the promise of suffering, Paul didn't argue. He didn't question, or try to distort anything that Agabus said to meet his cultural and political persuasions. Rather, when Paul was told that preaching the word was going to get him into trouble, he simply said – Bring it on.

Paul looked at Agabus and proclaimed that he would not only follow Jesus to prison, he would follow Jesus to the grave. Jesus had grabbed a hold of Paul's heart, and as a result, nothing else truly mattered to him. He undeniably had given Jesus. All.

Am I at that place in my friendship with Jesus? Do I have the faith of Paul? Would I allow myself to be uncomfortable for Christ?

These are the questions Acts 21 stir in my heart. They are difficult and daunting to wrestle with in our postmodern society that values convenience and comfort. Yet, I encourage you to grapple. Take a moment to wrestle away — ask yourself the hard questions. Knowing that in the midst of our wrestling, we are not alone, but we join a long line of those who have come before us. Those who were not content to live their lives for momentary pleasures, and fleeting feelings, but those who came to the freeing understanding that the only way to truly gain our lives is to lose them.

By Kyle Smith

New Episodes each Saturday at 6:30am PST

Posted in
Posted in

No Comments