Neither Murderer Nor God
Text: Acts 28:1-10 | Listen to Message
Get Some Perspective
The Apostle Paul was snakebit. Literally. Just moments after surviving a catastrophic shipwreck off the coast of Malta, he crawled up onto the beach, only to be struck on the hand by a poisonous viper. But Paul not only survived the venomous snakebite without harm, he went on to heal many others also – most certainly preaching the Gospel as he went. He wasn’t about let his life be ruled by self-pity, bitterness, or despair when he knew he was a servant of the Lord with unfinished business.
The larger context of Paul’s life makes his perspective even more remarkable. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he writes, “[I have endured] far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
All that hardship is in the past, but his future isn’t much brighter. Now he’s a prisoner headed to Rome to stand trial before Caesar – a despot by the name of Nero. And if Nero condemns him to die, he has no other recourse or appeal.
Yet Paul’s perspective wasn’t driven by his circumstances – past, present, or future. He didn’t obsess over the unfairness of all the trials he faced while serving Jesus; he obsessed over Jesus himself. In fact, during his imprisonment in Rome he’s going to write these words in Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
If your life is truly about Jesus Christ – if he is your obsession and you’re okay with his plans for your life – then nothing can paralyze or panic you. If you see the big picture, then you know that each new trial comes with an opportunity to trust in him and to put his supreme worthiness on display.