As Paul finishes his third missionary journey, he ends his voyage by going through Tyre, Ptolemais and Caesarea. Paul had determined to return to Jerusalem with the burden of his heart for the Jews there. If only he could present the gospel to them one more time so some would believe! As he is preparing to continue this journey, “a prophet named Agabus…said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, “This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles”. When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:10-12).
We might think that Paul would heed the warning and pleading of those concerned for his welfare. It was around this time that Paul was writing his letter to the Romans where he expresses such “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” (Romans 9:2) for his fellow Israelites. The brothers at Caesarea did not comprehend how deep and real Paul’s feeling were. Was his passion misguided? Was he being unrealistic about reaching the Jews?
Paul’s response answers some of this quandary. “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Such a commitment comes from intimacy with God and knowing His heart. It stirred the brethren and some accompanied Paul all the way to Jerusalem.
Passion for an unreached people group is only understood as we enter into the heart of those who are called to “GO”. As we do, we also gain a deeper love for those God wants to reach with the gospel of grace and freedom from sin in Christ. This grace reached you. Now you are compelled by grace to reach others.
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