Summary: The road to Jerusalem was a road to pain and suffering for Jesus and for Paul. What made them stay on the path? What will keep you on the same path to glory?
In August 2004, Gene Banister, a Christian teacher, reports, “We have been studying with a group of 49 students in Bahrain. This week, 31 of those 49 were baptized. We hope there will be more baptisms soon. We are told we will soon be studying with a large group of students. The church in Bahrain has roughly doubled in the past two months.
Our brother “A,” whom we reported as missing in Yemen, has returned. Unfortunately, he suffered the loss of one eye in the event that occurred this time. His wife expressed his joy that he still has one eye so that he can read the BIBLE. I wish I could tell you more about what is happening in Yemen. I know some are in jail.
The news in Libya has been good. We have some new students. The church is doing well there.”
Today is January 16, 2005. Brother “A” that was mentioned is Abdel Youssef, a brilliant, dedicated young Muslim who became a Christian the first of 2004 by email contact with Gene Banister. In the brief time that Abdel was a Christian, he shared the gospel with and personally baptized about 400 people. Right now, there are over 10 congregations in 4 Arab countries with a total of over 1000 new Christians who know Christ today largely because of the amazing work of Abdel Youssef. During this time he was beaten three times. The third time they gouged out one of his eyes. But Abdel would not stop confessing Jesus as the Christ and spreading the gospel to other Muslims. He was still recovering from his third beating and the loss of his eye when a group broke into his home and beat him to death. He was killed the third week of last October by radical Muslims who hated him for converting to Christ and more so for converting others.
He has a wife and children who are in hiding now.
Why would a young man with a wife and children put himself and them in such danger? What do you think motivated Abdel’s deadly determination?
Paul’s words in Acts 20:20-24 provide us some insight.
20 … I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
22 "And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.
24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
The last chapters of Acts focus on another man with a deadly determination. In fact, some have seen a parallel between Paul’s journey to Jerusalem and Jesus’ journey there. Three times the scriptures record warnings of what will happen to Paul when he arrives in Jerusalem, and three times Jesus warns the disciples of what will happen to himself when he arrives in Jerusalem. Both Paul and Jesus were told by friends not to go. Both Paul and Jesus adamantly continued their course in spite of what they knew would happen. Both were convinced that they were doing the Father’s will. Both were willing to die for the cause. It may be that Paul regarded this journey as walking in the footsteps of his Lord and Master. Have you ever been warned against doing something that you knew you had to do?