Monday, June 1, 2020

Monday - Acts 20 - A Long Sermon & Real Love



HE Apostle Paul was a man of deep compassion. He certainly was not just some stodgy old scholar with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. Don't get me wrong, he certainly was a scholar, did read extensively and encouraged others to do the same (1st Timothy 4:13). But he was not disconnected from his students. He loved them. They loved him (Acts 20:37-38). His relationship with other converts was deep and intense. In reading the book of Acts (as well Paul's epistles), it is impossible to ignore the constant display of affection from Paul toward individuals in each church. It's almost like he was the pastor of every single church he visited (or started).

Acts 20 begins with Paul embracing the believers of Ephesus as he departed from them. Then notice how a few verses later we see that he was not alone in his travels. He literally had an entourage of loyal supporters and assistants who traveled with him. But perhaps the strongest demonstration of the depth of the devotion of Paul's friends to him (and his devotion to them) is seen in how they sat and listened to Paul as he preached till midnight, and then they talked with him further until the sun rose. It's hard to imagine that happening in most church settings today. Admittedly, we don't have resurrections in the middle of our sermons either.  Paul did. He preached so long in Troas that a teenager named Eutychus fell out of a third story window (in which he was sitting) and died. Paul stopped his sermon and went down to raise him back to life. Notice again though that Paul embraced him, which represents something significant about the apostle (Acts 20:10).


Without renaming all the cities, which Paul stopped in as, he traveled; I think his habit of visiting everyone also says something about his deep compassion. While he did have places to go and things to do, it seems that he almost always had time to stop in another place to minister to the people there (Acts 10:14-16). In one case (recorded here), Paul didn't take the time to stop in one of the cities, but he still called the pastors of the church in that city (Ephesus) to come to him and he instructed them passionately. He loved them. He cared. Even in his parting challenge, he spoke openly of his deep love for them and of his continual display of emotion in his ministry to them (Acts 20:19).


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