Summary: When the storm came during the apostle Paul's journey, they started to throw things overboard: first the cargo, then... etc.... and the whole journey is as spiritual picture of our life and a lesson how to live a cargo-less lifestyle.
19th of June 2011
Text: Acts 27:9-44
Dear friends in Christ.
Our reading journey through the New Testament brought us to the end of the 5th book of the New Testament, Acts of the Apostles chapter 27. Today we shall look into the story from the last journey of apostle Paul - his journey to Rome. Maybe he did travel some more (to Spain etc.) but we have no record of it, so we consider this to be his last journey. As we know from the historical records Paul finished his ministry and his life as a martyr and was buried in Rome.
I am not going to read the whole passage, I hope that you all read it this week according to our congregational Bible reading plan. But for those of you who are not quite familiar with this story, let me just briefly tell you what is it all about.
Paul was a prisoner because of his faith. Accused by the jealous Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, held in prison for couple years in the city of Caesarea, as a Roman citizen he used his right to appeal to the Emperor, so he is taken by the Roman soldiers to Rome.
They started their journey bit late, the sailing season was nearly over – ships did not sail in wintertime because of the adverse wind conditions. Paul warned them before they even started ‘the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of their lives’ (Acts 27:10).
But they did not heed his warnings. But that exactly what happened. They sailed out and the storm came that lasted 2 weeks! Can you imagine 14 days of storm in the wooden vessel from 2000 ago? It must have a ship of reasonable size, because there were 276 people on board, and large amount of cargo, yet they were helpless in the tempest that came upon them.
Now I want to pause in the story at this point and focus on Paul’s words. He said there will be a loss of cargo and lives of people will be endangered.
We are all on a journey! The final destination point is ahead of us. We as Christians we know there will be a loss of cargo and we also know that the lives of many men are in grave danger! WE ARE this prophetic, apostolic voice in our world, in our society, in our city today. In the same way as Paul, we have a choice to be quiet and say nothing or be truthful to our calling and proclaim the truth however unpleasant and hard it is to our listeners.
John the Baptist preached very unpopular message: Repent! – Yet the whole country, all the people were flocking to him. (Matthew 3:5) His words were harsh, penetrating deep, but people kept on coming.
Our message is not easy because we have a duty of care for our neighbours. We have to tell them: Hey, if you don’t know Jesus, you will die forever, you will go to hell. If you live for the things of this world, for the cargo of this world only, we have a very bad news for you: There will be a great loss of cargo and great loss of lives at the end of your journey.
Do people want to hear this? Of course not! But how much do we love the people in our neighbourhood? PUSH, PUSH, PUSH – we have to give birth; we need to see people being born again. PUSH – pray until something happens! Are you pregnant? Why not? What’s wrong with you? Do you need IVF – great, this is a good place, because we listen to the living word of the living God in here and through this word, by this word something happens inside us. This word is given to us to create a new life – just like in the womb of Mary, we are here to conceive new lives all around us.
On this ship there was Paul and probably a few more Christian friends that were with him on the ship – because as we notice, the author of the book of Acts, Luke was obviously there, because he writes as an eyewitness, as a participant in this horrific story. Because of these few believers onboard of this ship, 276 lives were spared!!! This is God’s plan for your life. This is God’s plan for Concordia, for this church: to be people of such an influence on our city that through the words of our testimony and through the witness of our lives there would be such a mighty harvest of souls for the kingdom of our Lord!
I believe so. And this kind of thinking is not farfetched in any way.