I have recently finished reading the book of Acts, and I can’t get past Acts 21, not in a way of understanding, but in a way of awe. The climax of the chapter for me comes in Acts 21:13 (ESV), where Paul says, “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.”
I am simply in awe of that statement. Let me unpack the chapter a little bit so that we can see this verse in context. Paul is on his way to Jerusalem to preach to the people there. On his way there, he would stay with different people in the different places. There was a prophet named Agabus who had come from Judea. He took Paul’s belt and tied up his feet and hands and was telling Paul that the Holy Spirit has shown him [Agabus] that this is how the Jews will bind the man and deliver him to the Gentiles.
And so, because this was prophesied, the people that Paul was staying with was urging and begging him not to go to Jerusalem. This is when Paul says (in verse 13), “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.”
The rest of the chapter and even the book of Acts goes on to say how Paul went to Jerusalem and was arrested, and went before different tribunals and governors and such to plead his defense, so to say.
Let me offer a modern perspective on this verse. When we have friends or other people that we know go on mission trips (especially tough or dangerous ones), we must make sure that we support them – or we run this risk of “breaking their heart” as it was with Paul. How can we support them? I would say that the number one way is through prayer. Prayer for safety, prayer for opportunities, prayer for seeds to be planted in the name of Jesus, etc.
Now, here’s my perspective or maybe the reason that I am in awe of Paul with this verse. I am going to Russia on a mission trip this summer for two weeks. I don’t think it is going to be dangerous, but I can’t completely tell. We (my team) can’t go with the specific purpose of evangelism or gospel sharing, because they won’t let us into the country. We are going under the blanket of “cultural exchange.” Two of our team members will be touring the country and hanging out with a group of ten Russian students in an effort of cultural exchange.
Of course we will be hopefully getting opportunities to share the gospel and to share our faith, and mainly just to be a Christian example to these students. Like I said, I don’t think it will be a dangerous trip, but in a “closed” country such as Russia, I am completely trusting God.
So when Paul says, “…For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” it just amazes me. I long that the Holy Spirit would work in my life to allow me to be able to say that.
As tough as it may be to think about, we should be ready to die for the name of Jesus. His ways are perfect, even though we may not understand them. Praise His name forever, and it is because of Him that we live anyway.
I encourage you if you haven’t done it, or haven’t done it in a while, to read through the book of Acts – some amazing truths will be revealed through this book.
– Adam Smith