SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul and his companions experience a shipwreck while sailing from Crete to Italy, where Paul is expected to stand trial before Caesar. All the passengers on the ship made it safely to shore, just as Paul had predicted (see Acts 27:22).
- The island they land on is named Malta. The people were very kind and welcoming.
- The leader of the island, Publius, has a father who is very sick. Paul prays for healing and God answers. When word gets out about this miracle, everyone on the island who is sick comes to see Paul for healing as well.
- After 3 months on the island, Paul and his companions finally sail to Italy and make it to Rome.
- Paul is on house arrest for 2 years, but he still takes the opportunity to share about Jesus, explain Christianity, and answer the Jews' question about this new "sect."
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- As the book of Acts comes to a close, we have watched Paul's patient journey from Jerusalem to Rome. Paul never gave up hope and faith that God would come through on his promise to make it to Rome. Now we get to see that promise fulfilled in today's reading. We also get to see his deep faith in action one more time, when he is bitten by a viper. Paul didn't fear the snake because he trusted God and knew that if God wanted him in Rome, he was going to Rome, and not even a deadly snake bite could prevent that.
- The chapter ends with God's promise fulfilled. However, God's promises aren't always roses and candy. Paul is in Rome, but he is on house arrest. Yet we see Paul make the best of it: although he cannot go to the synagogue and share about Jesus anymore, he asks the people to come to him. And they do. Paul continued to preach boldly about Jesus for the next two years.
- Sometimes it can be difficult to believe God is going to come through on his promises; we can become negative and bitter when everything is going wrong. We should instead live by Paul's example and be patient on the journey, because life with Jesus is a journey and it may not look the way we'd hoped. It may even include a few snake bites on the way. But God will always see us through if we fully trust and rely on him.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Paul finally made it to Rome, but was still in a difficult situation. However, he didn't use that as an excuse to sit around and do nothing. He still used his gift of preaching to make a difference in people's lives. We need to do the same. God desires for us to serve others by using our gifts, even during the hard times. Do you have any areas of your life that you feel God has gifted you that you aren't using? Pray that God will give you opportunities to share with others what he has done in your life.