Jul. 1, 2017

Ready to live or die for the name of Lord Jesus.

Acts 21:1-17 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again.

When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. 10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”

15 After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge.

17 After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.


Paul didn’t live his life recklessly, intentionally putting himself in jeopardy. There were many times that when danger arose he did his best to avoid it. In today’s text though despite many warnings, Paul said:  “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”   In truth, in many ways it is harder to be willing to live for Christ than it is to be willing to die for Him. Paul was both, willing to live completely for Jesus or to die for Him. In his letter to the Philippians, chapter 1:20-24 Paul says:  I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.    Paul said God would be exalted in his body. Whether he lived or died, all that he did he did for the name of Jesus, that God would be glorified.    In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 he says:  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.     Paul was speaking there regarding living holy and righteous, free from sin and certainly we are to do that, as we live for Christ. But to live as though we are not our own, to truly live for Christ, the one who purchased us with a price, His life on the cross, we must live as Paul did and as he said in Colossians 3:17:  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Like Jesus, the things Paul said, his instructions, his exhortations and the discipline he spoke of and wrote, were not things which were foreign to him. Paul, like Jesus doesn’t ask us to do more than he himself was willing to do. Paul’s life, his willingness to live completely for Christ and the gospel is a great example of what he wrote in Romans 8:28-29.      We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.    God did not cause the many hardships Paul endured in living for Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul lists a summary of some of what he endured, living for Christ.      Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.     God didn’t cause those things to happen to Paul, some were natural consequences of the life he lived and some were done by the hands of evil. God did though cause all that happened to Paul to work together for good, both for Paul, that he became conformed to Christ and for the many who were and continue to be influenced by his ministry. Paul’s life and ministry influenced governors and kings, in his day. He was a witness for Christ to religious Jews and pagans, to the highly educated and the common people. Paul’s life and ministry, his willingness to be bound for the name of Jesus, has perhaps been used for good for more people than anything other than  Jesus finished work on the cross. It was through Paul’s willingness to live in bondage for Christ, that we have the letters he wrote to the churches while he was imprisoned, the teaching, the instruction, the exhortation and the discipline that makes up much of the New Testament scripture.  

Romans 8:29 says:   to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.    Jesus didn’t give His life, He didn’t endure the cross so that He could become our king, our Lord and Master. Jesus was already the King of kings, He was already Lord. Jesus died so that He would be the first of many brethren. Jesus went to the cross and died to pay the price so that we could become His brethren. That like Him, we would be children of God. That is why Paul was willing, both to live or die for the name of Jesus and the sake of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul says:  For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.     I doubt whether Paul could possibly have imagined how many people he would influence, how many would become children of God, brethren of Christ through his life and his ministry. He said he did it all that he might save some.    If we like Paul, were willing to both live and die for the name of Jesus, how many might be saved? How many might also become brethren of Christ, children of God?

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I would both live and die for You. But on my own I am easily distracted and bogged down by the things of my life. Holy Spirit fill me, guide me, live in me and through me, that all that I do, I would do for the name of Jesus, that through my life, lived for You, some might become fellow partakers of the gospel, brethren of Christ; children of God.  Amen.