The people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured
Acts 28 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.
7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. 10 They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.
11 At the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead. 12 After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. 15 And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
16 When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. 17 After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.” 21 They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”
23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. 24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. 25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,
to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 27 For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes; Otherwise they might see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”’
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” 29 When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.
30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.
Today’s text left me with a question. It says: Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed. The text speaks of the healings which took place through the prayers and laying on of hands, but it does not mention that the people became believers or even that Paul shared the gospel with them. We are left not knowing whether that is merely left out by the writer or if indeed these people were left having only seen the evidence of the kingdom of heaven and not being told the way to enter into it. The question remains, but the answer perhaps lies in Paul’s obedience to God and in his Christ likeness. Jesus said of Himself: "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19) This brief stopover on this small island was only a means to the destiny of Paul to stand before Caesar and testify of Christ; to share the gospel in Rome and sow the seeds that would spread the gospel throughout the world. There was not time to establish a church on Malta. Perhaps it was that Paul sowed seeds of evidence of the power of the kingdom, so that they could grow for a harvest at another time.
We too must understand and be willing to sow seeds of the gospel every day and everywhere we go, even if we are not to be those who reap the harvest. We, like Jesus are to do what God is doing, nothing more and nothing less. Like Paul, we should carry the power of the kingdom of heaven with us and it should be released to change the circumstances of those around us. The results though are not for us to control or determine. We are only to do what the Father is doing and as Jesus says in John 12:49: “I have not spoken on My own, but the Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it.” We are to say what the Father says. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 Paul says: I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. If we will be faithful to do what God is showing us to do, to sow, to water or to harvest, God will take care of the growth and He will bring it to harvest in due time.
Today’s text ends saying: He stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. Paul’s destiny was to share the gospel in Rome, where the seeds and the growth could spread throughout the world. Each of us, like Paul, has a destiny and a calling. There are those to whom we are to go and share the gospel of the kingdom. We don’t know the final outcome of the seeds we sow or those we are called to water. We don’t know which ones will grow and produce a harvest, 30, 60 or 100 fold. For us, like Jesus and like Paul, we must be faithful to do what God is doing and say what He is saying. We must be willing to faithfully do that, but not go beyond. We must be yoked to Christ and yielded to the Holy Spirit, so that we walk in the power of the kingdom, allowing God to cause the growth and we must trust Him with the result.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; You kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; both in and through my life, as I walk in and release the power of the kingdom every day and everywhere. Amen.