Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 11 2013 - Acts 28:1-31 – The end of the story?

The ship that Paul and his companions had been travelling in was wrecked on the coast of Malta and all managed to get safely to shore. The estate of Publius, the chief Roman official on the island, was close by and Luke records, “He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days” (Acts 28:7). It is not clear who is included in the “us” – did Publius offer some sort of shelter and hospitality to all 275 from the ship? What we do know is that Publius’ father was very sick and that Paul laid his hands on him and healed him. Paul’s presence proved a blessing not only to his fellow travellers aboard the ship but also to those with whom he stayed.

Three months later they were able to sail on towards Rome in a ship whose captain had shown the good sense to overwinter in the island. The ship docked in Puteoli where Paul found some Christians with whom he stayed for a week. Christians have family in every city. Are we as eager to offer hospitality to fellow Christians as these brothers and sisters in Puteoli? Through such acts of hospitality we welcome God’s messengers – angels – into our homes and in doing so welcome God himself.

A few days later, Paul and his companions travelled on to Rome where they were again met and welcomed by fellow Christians. In Rome Paul was placed under house arrest. But that did not put an end to his preaching ministry: to both Jews and Gentiles he continued to preach fearlessly concerning the kingdom of God and to teach concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. His guards must have heard his preaching time and time again.

This was Paul’s passion, to speak about Jesus and to show from the Scriptures that he is the Christ, God’s promised Messiah, the King whom God has made Lord over all creation. Paul preached concerning the kingdom of God; its arrival in the Lord Jesus and the need for everyone to acknowledge his reign and to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And that’s where Luke finishes the Book of Acts. We want to know what happened next. Was Paul executed after the two years of which Luke speaks or was he released for a while before being captured again? Luke does not tell us. He has finished his story. The Gospel has been brought to Rome, the heart of the Empire. From there it will go to the ends of the earth, but that’s another story.

In fact, that’s our story. Luke is signing off his book with the implicit invitation, even command, “Over to you.” If we are to continue the story we need to be driven by the same passion that drove Paul, a passion for Jesus the Christ which nothing and no-one can suppress?

Filled with compassion for all creation,
Jesus came into a world that was lost.
There was but one way that he could save us,
Only through suffering death on a cross.

God, you are waiting. Your heart is breaking
For all the people who live on the earth.
Stir us to action, filled with your passion
For all the people who live on the earth.

Noel & Tricia Richards

Lord God, stir us to action and fill us with the same passion that drove Paul on in his ministry – a passion which could not be extinguished by beatings, shipwreck and imprisonment. By your Spirit enlarge our vision for the work of the kingdom and give us the energy, drive and power to make Christ known. May the story of Jesus’ Kingdom continue to be written through us.

Peter Misselbrook