Summary: The Story of Paul and the people around him when he was close to death, those who were faithful and those who were not. Timothy who was like a son to him had to make a decision go to him before it would be too late. Some thing need to be done now..
Annual Sermons: Vol. 3 Sermon 8
Bob Marcaurelle 2 Timothy 4:21
COME BEFORE WINTER
A famous psychologist said that if the news came over our radio and television stations that the nuclear bombs were headed our way, the TELEPHONE BOOTHS would be filled instantly. In the face of death our thoughts would be of people - people we love and who love us.
This is what Paul did. Locked in a Roman prison he sensed that death was near. He wrote, “. . .the time has come for my departure” (4:6). And what does ht do next? He says to Timothy, “Do your best to come to me QUICKLY. Demas. . .has deserted me. . .Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you” (4:9-11). He goes on to ask for his books and for his cloak (12-13). He tells how Alexander the copper-smith did him great harm. He tells how the Lord stood by him at his first trial although everyone else deserted him (16-18). And then, with what seems like a “P.S.,” for the letter seems to end with verse 18, he says in verse 21, “Do your best to come before winter.”
Any student of history recognizes the name “Napoleon.” He was the little general of France who tried to enslave the world but was beaten by the Russian winter. He died a prisoner, in exile on an island in the South Atlantic. He and Paul both died in prison and perhaps these are the two most famous prisoners of history.
How similar yet how different. As Napoleon sat like an eagle in a cage he would think about the wars waged to bring about an iron-fisted peace. But Paul would think about the gospel campaigns where he sought to bring peace within men, between me and between men and God. Napoleon would look back t cities he had wasted in his thirst for power. Paul would look back at cities he had blessed with his thirst to see people saved. Napoleon would look back at all the blood he had shed in his lust for conquest. Paul would look back at the blood HE HIMSELF had shed in his love for Christ.
Napoleon ended his life with these pitiful words, “I wonder if there is anyone who truly loves me.” My, what a sad way to leave this world, devoid of love and companionship, not sure of anyone’s love. Paul, however, ended his life with the assurance that he was loved. He ended his life writing letters for his Friend and to his friends. Timothy is a love letter! In it he mentions many friends, four of whom stand out above all the others.
First and foremost is his best Friend, Jesus Christ. Paul said in verse 16 that at his first trial nobody stood with me but He stood with me. Nobody cared, but He cared. Nobody was by my side but He was by my side. It is an unbelievable comfort for us to know that Jesus will never leave us and that when Jesus is all we have, He will be enough to meet our needs and see us through.
This, however, does not mean we do not need the human touch of earthly friends. We do! And so Paul mentions to Timothy, two others who means more than life to him. The first is Luke, the beloved physician, the medical missionary, the doctor of Paul, who joined him on his missionary journeys, who was by his side. The second was John Mark who had failed Paul early in life by leaving the first missionary journey. He had somehow redeemed himself and Paul said, “Bring Mark because he is helpful to me” (4:11).
Closest of all, however, was the fourth friend, this young pastor, Timothy, whom Paul called his “son” (1:2). Many scholars believe that since Timothy came from Lystra, that when Paul was stoned and lay half dead and bleeding beneath the rocks, it was Timothy who lifted him up, took him into his home and nursed him back to life.
In the hour before death Paul called on Timothy. He asked him to come and bring some books. Perhaps he felt a chill in the air, the hint of winter, and he said, “Oh, yes. Bring my cloak.” Oh, my friends, what a cloak that was! Wouldn’t you love to see the cloak of the Apostle Paul? That cloak had been wet with the brine of the Mediterranean, white with the snows of Galatia, yellow with the dust of Asia and red with the blood of his wounds for service to Christ.
He asked for his books, he asked for his cloak and he asked for his friends. And then with a note of urgency he added the postscript, Timothy, do your best to come before winter. Why did he say that? If you read the Book of Acts, chapter 27, you will see that winter was a dangerous time to sail the Med. Sea. Thousands of ships have gone to the bottom ignoring the danger of her fierce winter storms. Thus the Mediterranean was closed during the winter months and if Timothy didn’t hurry he would not get there until the Spring. And Paul was not sure he would be alive in the Spring. And so he was really saying, if you don’t come now, if you don’t come before winter, you just might not make it in time.