Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paul Was Innocent

At the end of Paul's third missionary journey, he knew he was going to face problems when he returned to Jerusalem. Chains and tribulation awaited him. He would end up in Rome. In various ways, the Holy Spirit kept telling him that trouble lay ahead.

So anyway, Paul gives his all-night-long sermon where the poor guy fell asleep and fell out of the window but was raised back to life. Traveling back to Judea on the next leg of the trip, Paul decides to skip Ephesus. (My theory is that he didn't have the time nor the emotional energy to interact with all the people there who loved him so dearly and would want to hear him preach.) But he stops near Ephesus, over in Miletus. He has all the pastors in Ephesus come to him so that he can bid his farewells to them and send them back to their people encouraged in the Word. That day Paul tells the pastors what's awaiting him. He says his good-byes. And he makes this curious statement:

I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20)

Paul murdered people. He had spent his younger days hunting down Christians, rounding them up for trial and even execution. Paul had overseen the murder of Stephen.

As Paul bids farewell to his beloved brothers and sons in the faith, he takes care to tell them that he is not afraid of what's coming for he is innocent of the blood of all men. What Paul had done of his own volition, the sins he had committed against Christians, the offenses he had committed against the Lord -- of all these things he is innocent. The "whole counsel of God" declares things about the sinner --for the sake of Jesus-- that are contrary to what we have observed according to the law, what we earn according to merit.

It is truly something to wonder at.

The sinless Son of God must die in sadness.
The sinful child of man may live in gladness.
Man forfeited his life and is acquitted --
God is committed. (TLH 143)

No comments:

Post a Comment