Paul gets his big chance…the opportunity to speak before both the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Jewish religious leaders; the influencers. These two groups were typically bitterly divided – the “religious liberal” Sadducees and the “fundamentalist” Pharisees – uncommonly united over their disdain for Jesus and the Christian movement. And in the eyes of any metric-keeping bystander, Paul was an utter failure. No one converted, he barely got to speak. It got so bad the Roman commander had to remove Paul from the situation for his safety.
Alone Paul sits in the dusty dark barracks. “Is that how it is going to end?” he is likely wondering. In physical pain, doubting, afraid, disappointed, Paul sits alone. But not for long. Jesus comes and stands by him and says, “Take courage…” Not only does Jesus know precisely where Paul is physically, but He also knows where he is emotionally. He knows Paul is afraid and alone, and He comes to stand by him and provide encouragement.
Jesus continues, “…for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
According to all worldly metrics, Paul had been unsuccessful in this particular mission. But not according to Jesus who commends Paul’s testifying there about Him. And not only that, He tells him there is more work to do. If Paul thought this was the end, it is only the beginning of something new…new people, new territory, a new mission field to testify about Jesus, the Messiah.
No longer alone. No longer feeling unsuccessful or unusable. Paul has renewed power and a renewed hope. Somehow from the barracks in Caesarea – a place he didn’t think he would get out of alive -- he knows he will be going to Rome, a place he deeply desired to go. He doesn’t know how or under what circumstances, but the Lord told him he would testify there and he knows it to be so.
Where in other instances Paul was miraculously released from Prison, for this next mission Paul must remain in prison. And Jesus wasn’t any further away or uninvolved. In fact, this time Jesus came to him. Sometimes Jesus helps us escape from where we are, and sometimes He comes and joins us where we are. Either way, He promises to always be with us.
If you are frustrated with your current situation, feeling regret over past failures, or fearful about the future…Take courage. Jesus is with you. He isn’t looking for worldly success; He is after obedient steps; Kingdom success. And He isn’t finished with you yet. There is still work to do, no matter where you find yourself today. He can find you anywhere, and He always desires to be with you. You may feel like you are in a no-win situation, but that is where He works best. If you call on Him, He will rescue you if that is part of the plan, but if not, He will join you in it. He has extraordinary ways of getting you exactly where you need to be when you need to be there. Take courage.
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