After three successful missionary journeys that took him into many lands, the Apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem even though he knew it was dangerous.
In fact, the events recorded in Acts chapters 21-28 show similarities with the conclusion of Christ’s mortal ministry:
Both Paul and Jesus Christ traveled to Jerusalem; on the way, both foretold hardships that would come upon them in Jerusalem; both faced a plot by certain Jews in Jerusalem; both were arrested and handed over to Gentile authorities; both were tried before the Jewish council and a Roman governor. (New Testament Student Manual for Institute)
Paul used the opportunities where he had to defend himself against unjust charges to bear testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ…an action that he must have known would surely make his situation worse.
[Paul will] bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. (Acts 9:15)
In Acts 21:10-14, Paul meets a prophetic person named Agabus, who says that the Jews at Jerusalem will bind Paul and deliver him to the Gentiles (Romans). But Paul answered:
I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Paul understood what the consequences were if he followed the Holy Spirit’s direction to go to Jerusalem. He was willing, anyway.
When he does go into the city, he is mobbed at the temple, beaten and yelled at by thousands of Jews and finally cuffed and taken by the Roman chief captain. On the way to the castle to be questioned, he requests that he may turn and speak to the mob. So, on the steps of the castle, he turns to the mob who just beat him and have been yelling after him, and there is silence. What should he say into that silence?
Well, like any good missionary, he recognizes the opportunity to testify. He shares his own conversion story.
As I have studied Paul’s life and writings, I’ve been impressed with his willingness to change when he saw that he was wrong (as when he converted). I’ve also been impressed with his willingness to share the gospel (through extensive journeys to preach the good news). I’ve also been impressed with his endless patience and concern for the saints in all the letters he wrote to help the early Christians. He penned the bulk of the New Testament by writing these letters!
But most of all, as Paul’s life journey begins to march toward its end, I am amazed at his unfailing commitment to do God’s will. That kind of courage makes me admire Paul even more. It makes me ask:
What am I willing to endure in order to fulfill the Lord’s will concerning me?
I, or you, will probably not be asked to die to accomplish God’s will. But we can show our commitment by our willingness to do the things that please Him.
Men changed for Christ will be captained by Christ…Their will is swallowed up in His will. They do always those things that please the Lord. Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him. (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Born of God” Oct 1985.)
May we also allow our will to be swallowed up by His will, and live for Him. If we do, I believe our Joy will increase no matter the circumstance, even in hard times, because we are aligning ourselves with the source of all joy.