When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”
15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge. – Acts 21:7-16
When I talk to couples who are getting ready to be married, I will ask him whether he would be willing to stand in the way of someone who was going to try to harm his fiancé – even to the point of physical harm, or possibly even death. Frequently the man will strongly avow his willingness to protect his future bride. I like to offer a challenge to this willingness to sacrifice for her sake. “Will you turn off the TV and listen to her and talk through an issue that is on her heart – even if your favorite team is playing? Ugh. It’s easy to talk big when the threat isn’t all that real or present. But when it becomes a real possibility…that’s often another matter altogether!
Paul is facing a very real and present danger as he approaches Jerusalem. This is attested to by the Spirit-led disciples of Tyre and the affirmation of the Spirit’s warning by the prophet Agabus. Paul will face grave danger if he insists on going to Jerusalem.
But Paul is ready not only to face the danger, but even to die for the sake of Jesus Christ. Perhaps he is aware of God’s word to Ananias: “I will show [Paul] how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16). It is likely, also, that he is determined to act in good faith regarding the monies collected in Corinth for relief of the saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8 & 9).
Whatever the case, Paul is heading to Jerusalem, willing to make the greatest sacrifice for the sake of Jesus. He will go to Jerusalem, be in grave danger and flee from there – ultimately appealing to Caesar, and as a result end up in Rome. It is said that he did ultimately offer his life for the cause of Jesus. Paul isn’t all talk. He won’t brag about his bravery in the face of danger. He will face it, and we are the richer for it. For God used this man to spread the Word across the Roman Empire.
It is likely that most of us will not face the possibility of giving up our life for the sake of the gospel. But there may be other smaller dangers we will need to face, and sacrifices we can make for the sake of the Gospel. May the Holy Spirit sustain us and give us courage whenever these times come.