This account of Paul’s journey to Rome reads something like a travelogue. In this chapter, shipwrecked Paul reaches safety on the Island of Malta, has an adventure there, and then finally sets off to Italy. Paul and his guards embark from Malta in a new boat, stopping at the ports of Syracuse, Rhegium and Puteoli, and eventually arriving at the road leading to Rome. Paul never seems to be alone. Wherever he goes, he gains an audience. It seems as if there are believers and non-believers alike happy to extend hospitality to him. And wherever he goes, Paul is anxious to share the Good News of Christ.
Paul must have been tired of travelling by the time he reaches Italy. He seems to have needed encouragement, and so we read in 28:15, “On seeing them (believers), Paul thanked God and took courage.” Even if the trip had gone smoothly, it would have been long, but this trip had seen lengthy interruptions caused by winter storms and shipwreck. When he sets out again with the other prisoners, this is no express trip. They pull into several places along the way, and I imagine the last part was on foot, marching along the Roman road to the city of Rome.
All along this long journey, Paul steadfastly proclaims the Gospel. He allows the Holy Spirit to make him a witness to Christ in whatever circumstance he finds himself. His proclamation of the Gospel is unstoppable. It does not depend on having ideal conditions of weather, place or even having a receptive audience. Paul proclaims the sovereignty of God over all places and people, encouraging those who open their eyes and ears to hear God’s message, to open their hearts to turn to God for healing. Paul knows that those who look and listen will encounter and experience the salvation of Christ. On this Holy Saturday, let us reflect on the cost of this salvation with open eyes, ears, and hearts.
Beloved Christ, help us follow in the footsteps of Paul as persevering stewards of your message. God, you rule over all things. Open our eyes, ears, and hearts to experience the healing salvation of Christ. Amen.
Prince Albert, SK