Summary: Paul's farewell speech to the church at Ephesus presents a picture of what Christian leadership should look like.
Walking through a supermarket, a young man noticed an old lady following him around. He ignored her for a while, but when he got to the checkout line, she got in front of him.
"Pardon me," she said. "I'm sorry if I've been staring, but you look just like me son who died recently.
"I'm sorry for your loss," the young man replied. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Well, as I'm leaving, could you just say 'Goodbye, mother!?' It would make me feel so much better." She gave him a sweet smile.
"Of course I can," the young man promised.
As she gathered her bags and left, he called out "Goodbye, mother!" just as she had requested, feeling good about her smile.
Stepping up to the counter, he saw that his total was about $100 higher than it should be. "That amount is wrong," he said. "I only have a few items!"
"Oh, your mother said that you would pay for her," explained the clerk.
It’s hard to say goodbye, that is especially true when talking to people who have been trough memorable times with you, both the good and especially the bad. That is the case with today’s passage Acts 20:17-38, “From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: ‘You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.”
This passage records Paul’s farewell to the leaders of the church at Ephesus after ministering to them for over three years. These were probably some of the most impressive years of Paul’s ministry. You’ll remember that the miracles that God worked through him were so impressive that Luke records that they were extraordinary miracles being worked, as if there were any other kind. But with Paul the miracles were so powerful and so many in this place that people literally wanted his head bands. That is called making and impression. But what was even better in this place is that Paul wasn’t the only one preaching, he was just the best known person. The Christians in this city told others about Jesus, that is how the church grows.