At last Paul is on his way to Rome. His “trials” in Jerusalem and Caesarea are finished, and with his appeal to Caesar Paul must be sent to Rome. Again we find that what we read is an eye-witness account from Luke. He and Aristarchus from Thessalonica are accompanying Paul on his journey to Rome.
It’s late in the season to be making the journey. The weather at that time of the year, as we see in chapter 27, can be vicious. Paul, in fact, warns the ship’s officers, warning them that he believed that there would be trouble ahead. But they don’t know Paul, nor trust his judgement of sea, and decided to press on. After all, their harbour of Fair Havens wasn’t the best of harbours… if only they could get to Phoenix, all would be well.
Of course it isn’t. They hit a terrible storm that drives the ship relentlessly for two weeks. But even so, Paul is confident that God has not abandoned him. For God sent an angel to encourage Paul, letting him know that he would surely stand trial before Caesar. Paul’s encouragement was that he would definitely go to Rome as God had promised. No force of nature could or can stop God’s promises coming true. And in his mercy, God also allowed for all 275 other people aboard the boat to be spared the storm. True, the boat would be lost, but none of those who travelled on it.
And so the ship is wrecked. Again, we see God’s hand at work in the Roman commander stopping his soldiers from killing the prisoners. Why? Because he wanted to spare Paul.
If I was Paul, I might have started getting disillusioned. He’d spent 2 years in jail in Caesarea. And now that he was on his way to Rome, it seemed as if the very forces of nature were conspiring to do what the enemies of Christ in Judea had tried and failed to achieve. Would he die? Was this to be his ignominious end?
No. God’s promises are true. Yes – Paul could have reminded himself of this, but God in his goodness sent an angel to encourage him. And through that encouragement, all the rest of those on the ship were encouraged too. I can’t help but wonder how many of Paul’s travelling companions became Christians.
Lord, when life seems to conspire against me – and when it seems like all your promises are coming undone… help me to trust you. Help me to know that nothing in all of creation can separate me from your love in Christ Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.