Summary: Paul makes his way back to Jerusalem
a. On April 21st, in the year 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez sailed into the harbor of Vera Cruz, Mexico. He brought with him only about 600 men, and yet over the next two years his vastly outnumbered forces were able to defeat Montezuma and all the warriors of the Aztec empire, making Cortez the conqueror of all Mexico.
b. How was this incredible feat accomplished, when two prior expeditions had failed even to establish a colony on Mexican soil? Here’s the secret. Cortez knew from the very beginning that he and his men faced incredible odds. He knew that the road before them would be dangerous and difficult.
c. He knew that his men would be tempted to abandon their quest and return to Spain. And so, as soon as Cortez and his men had come ashore and unloaded their provisions, he ordered their entire fleet of eleven ships destroyed. His men stood on the shore and watched as their only possibility of retreat burned and sank. And from that point on, they knew beyond any doubt there was no return, no turning back. Nothing lay behind them but empty ocean. Their only option was to go forward, to conquer or die.
d. In a similar kind of way, today, we are going to look at Paul’s fateful last trip to Jerusalem. Paul knew that bad things would happen to him while he was there, but he chose to go there anyway.
e. Paul wasn’t worried about the odds, because he was trusting God to pull him through. Paul knew that God had led him back to Jerusalem, and he was simply trusting God, and obeying him.
a. Last, week, we saw as Paul drew closer to his destination of Jerusalem that several people were warning him about. Even though Paul did not know all of the particulars, he did know that he would be facing trials and tribulations when he got there.
b. We saw this last week, as the believers at Tyre urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem, for fear that he would be killed there, and also last week we saw where Agabus came down from Jerusalem to Caesarea, where Paul was staying with Philip, and delivered a prophetic message to Paul concerning his eventual imprisonment.
c. But, the eventual outcome was that Paul would not be persuaded away from Jerusalem. He told the disciples that he was not only ready to be imprisoned, or bound at Jerusalem, but ready to be killed for his faith at Jerusalem.
d. So, the motives were right on the part of the people of Tyre, and Paul’s companions, but the simple fact of the matter was that Paul was called to go to Jerusalem, and he would do it.
e. When we left Paul last week, he was journeying with his companions and a believer named Mnason. They were headed to Jerusalem, and it was the intention of Paul and his party to stay at Mnason’s house while they were in Jerusalem.
f. We pick up from this point, as Paul and his party are arriving at Jerusalem. This would be Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem as recorded in scripture, and the fifth that we know about since Paul became a follower of Christ.
g. You can’t help but to compare Paul’s final trip to Jerusalem with the final trip that Jesus made. Both Paul and Jesus had people telling them not to go, but both went anyway, because it was God’s will. Both will be seized at the instigation of the Jews, and held by the Roman authorities.
h. We will look at this in depth today, as we finish out Acts chapter 21, in our continuous study through the book of the Acts. So, turn with me if you would to Acts chapter 21, and we will begin reading at verse 17. **If you need a Bible**
i. 17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality." 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.