Paul has just finished telling the elders of the Ephesian church that he may not he see them again. The Holy Spirit has told him to return to Jerusalem where:
…prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20: 23b-24 NIV
Paul is risking his life to share the gospel.
Paul also encourages the elders to care for the church, to be careful of persecutors, and to rest in the care of the gospel.
I love this part:
When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. vs. 36-28
People charge Paul with being cold and harsh, but look at the love he shared with the Ephesian elders (and the Philippians, the Thessalonians… all of the churches he planted). Paul talks about the tears he has shed for the gospel and this church (vs. 19, 31). Now those tears are returned.
I love how the elders wept, embraced, and kissed Paul. How they grieved his possible death.
Oh for that kind fellowship in our churches today!
Paul was willing to risk his life for the gospel. Soon these men would face persecution as well.
Maybe that’s what it takes to have such deep commitment to God and to one another.
Oh, Lord. Bring it on.
Today’s Readings: 2 Chronicles 32:1-33:25, Psalm 85:8-13, Proverbs 21:12, Acts 20:17-38. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).