Today we are told of Paul’s journey back to Jerusalem. This is sort of a transition phase for the narrative of the book of Acts. The first section of the book was the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion and resurrection where we saw the early work of Peter. The second part was Paul’s conversion and first missionary journey. We are now beginning the third part of the book where we will follow Paul in earnest as the Gospel really begins to spread out to the larger world.
In today’s reading we catch up with Phillip. We are reminded that he is “one of the seven”, that is the seven deacons that we saw ordained in Acts 6. We also see the return of a prophet Agabus. We last saw him in Acts 11 when he predicted a famine. At that time his prophecy gave rise to the first organized relief mission of the Church. This charity was sent with Barnabas and Paul to Judea and probably ultimately had the effect of making Paul well known and giving him the opportunity to establish relationships that he would use to evangelize.
This time Agabus gives Paul another warning; things are going to start getting tough for him. He is going to be arrested and persecuted. Paul has been preparing for this in prayer and practice. He is ready. His response to the coming persecutions:
Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Would that we were all ready to give such a response when the time comes.