CARRYING A CROSS
Thank you, Jesus, that You carried Your cross. Thank You that You did so willingly, and because of that I am Your child. What an amazing privilege!
Read ACTS 21:1–16
After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Kos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4 We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. 6 After saying goodbye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.
7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed with them for a day. 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”
15 After this, we started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.
New International Version (NIV)
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Ask the Lord to teach you how to submit to the
unpleasant aspects of serving him. Are you willing to take up your cross and follow Jesus?
Are you beginning to get the pattern
of Luke’s narrative? Our reading today gives another part of Paul’s itinerary as he continues toward Jerusalem, traveling from Miletus to Tyre, Ptolemais and Caesarea (1–8). Apparently, Paul and his companions have never been to Tyre, as the word translated “sought out” (4) suggests an intentional searching to find something, but having located the believers, they spend seven days with them. Even
during that short time a solid relationship develops which impels all the believers, including wives and children, to come out to the beach and say goodbye (5).
How do we reconcile the Holy Spirit speaking through
the people of Tyre when they “urge Paul not to go on to Jerusalem” (4) with Paul’s statement that the Spirit was compelling him to go (Acts 20:22)? Paul hears the warning and accepts that it is from the Spirit. It could be that the people have been warned of the outcome of the visit by the Spirit and share it with Paul, who decides that he still must go to Jerusalem. This is not the only prophecy given about
Paul in this passage. In Caesarea, Agabus, in a manner reminiscent of Old Testament prophets (e.g., Isa. 20:1–6; Jer. 19:1–13; Ezek. 4:1–17), prophesies what will happen to Paul in Jerusalem (10,11). Not unnaturally, this distresses all who hear it, and they plead with Paul not to go, but he will not be dissuaded, affirming his willingness not only to
suffer but to die for the “name of the Lord Jesus” (13).
Paul is willing to pay the cost of being a disciple,
something that Jesus made clear to his disciples (Mark 8:34). Taking up our cross daily is a prerequisite for discipleship. Paul accepts his cross willingly. Will you take up your cross today and follow Jesus wherever he leads?
What cross is Jesus asking you to carry today?
Pray for the strength to carry it.
Lord, give me the grace to carry whatever cross You lay on my shoulders.