Event(s): Paul’s ministry on Malta, shakes off the venomous snake; Arrival at Rome
Today’s Text: Acts 28:1-16
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 29:17-31
Paul and the crew landed safely at Malta, though as the angel had predicted, the ship they traveled in was completely destroyed. Malta was located about 60 miles south of Sicily. It is now fall of A.D. 60 and Paul and the other shipwrecked passengers will remain in Malta for the winter.
Acts 28:3 “when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks…” Paul never lost his servant-hearted attitude. Though the natives were being very hospitable and kindled the fire for Paul and the crew, Paul jumped right in to help; it was very natural for him to assume the position of a servant.
Acts 28:5 “But he shook off the creature into the fire…” The promise of Jesus recorded in Mark 16:18 says, “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them….” Paul’s experience with this venomous snake was a fulfillment of this promise; this is what the power of the Holy Spirit can do within us. He literally blocked the venom from having any affect on Paul. However, this does not give us license to use the power of God like a show-and-tell magic power. To pick up a snake or drink something poisonous (or engage in any other dangerous activity) purposefully and then claim that promise is far from the heart of God.
Acts 28:11 “after three months we sailed…” Winter had passed, and now it’s probably around mid-February, which is when ships began to sail once again. Paul still had 210 miles to go before he reached Rome. The “Twin Brothers” mentioned according to Greek mythology, were the twin sons of Zeus, the gods of navigation. It’s amusing that our author Luke would include this detail, especially considering everything he and Paul just been though. He knew who the real “God of navigation” was.
Acts 28:15 “when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us…” News of Paul’s arrival preceded him to Rome and the body of believers eagerly makes their way to meet him. He had written his first letter to the Romans three years earlier and now finally, he gets to meet the recipients of that letter. When he saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
Never doubt that the seeds we sow in obedience now will reap a harvest in our future. Paul had ministered and invested into the Romans long before he even met them. The Book of Romans is one of the most encouraging letters Paul ever wrote and is commonly considered the greatest exposition of Christian doctrine found anywhere in the Scripture. Paul wrote it from Corinth, during a challenging season. And here, as he’s endured one of the most difficult seasons of his life, that act of obedience returned great courage to him.
We always reap what we sow, and while yes, this is true both in the negative and positive sense, let’s focus on the positive side. What you would like to see come back to your life? More generosity? Love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Mercy? Friendships? Encouragement? The best way to ensure our lives are full of those things is to authentically be those things for other people. It’s often been said that whatever we hand out in slices comes back to us in loaves. So today, let’s think about how we can intentionally start sowing those seeds that will produce an abundant harvest in our future.