Pic from Flickr by koalazymonkey
Our text for this sermon comes from Acts 28.
Vs. 1 Malta was on the main route from Myra to Rome. God’s providence had brought them through the storm and back on course. Under the direction of the captain, the storm ripped control of the ship away from the captain and violently sent it off course. God took control of the ship and brought it back on course. God had always intended for Paul to go to Rome. God was not going to allow the storm to take the ship somewhere else that Paul was not supposed to be. God had a things that Paul needed to accomplish and God steered the ship back on course. All of the passengers that were on the ship spent the rest of the winter in Malta.
Vs 2 In Greek the native people are designated “barbarians” a word that did not carry negative connotation but simply referred in a general way to those who did not speak Greek. No doubt the island also had a number of educated people who did speak Greek.
Vs 3-6 Paul was not aware when he picked up the sticks to build the fire that he also picked up a snake. When the sticks hit the fire, the snake came out and bit Paul. Greco-Roman lore spoke of fugitives who escaped shipwreck only to be killed by poisonous snakes. Justice in Greek can refer to justice or to the name of the goddess who dispenses justice.
Why did Paul not die when he was bit by the viper? Because God numbers your days. God still had use for Paul. It was not time for Paul to die because there was still work for Paul to complete.
When the Lystrans took Paul as a god, he protested vigorously Acts 14. The situation differs here, as no attempt to worship him is related. Throughout Acts miracles provide an opportunity for witness, and likely Paul also witnessed to the Maltese. We know that the gospel message was so important to Paul that he was intentional about sharing it wherever he went.
Vs 7-10 The description of Publius’s father as having fever and dysentery fits the symptoms of an infection caused by goat’s milk called “Malta fever.” The coming of the whole region with their sick is reminiscent of what happened after Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Out of gratitude, the people of Malta gave the passengers whatever they needed to make the trip to Rome. They had enough food and supplies to make the trip. God provided.
Vs 11-16 The ship from Alexandria was most likely transporting grain. We are not sure why in verse 14 why Luke says that they came to Rome because Puteoli is still 130 miles from Rome. What best makes sense here is that Luke is describing the process of how Paul gets to Rome not necessarily that they were already in Rome. When they reach the Forum, they are still 40 miles away from Rome.
Three Taverns: Here St. Paul, on his way to Rome, was met by a band of Roman Christians. At this point three roads run into the city. So here would be a halting-place, which took its name from the three shops there, the general store, the blacksmith’s, and the refreshment-house. Tres Tabernae is translated as Three Taverns, but it more correctly means three shops.
Vs 17-31 Paul is now in his own house. He is basically a prisoner in his own house. This is ironic because for his whole pastoral life, he has always stayed with other people in the cities and towns that he visited. He never stayed in any one place for too long. Now, instead of him going to others, people are going to visit Paul on a regular basis in his house to hear Paul preach about Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon said, “A man ought to know what he is preaching about, or else let him sit down.”
Paul knows exactly what he is preaching about. He is preaching about the gospel. He is intentional about pointing others to Jesus. Paul preaches with an urgency. Paul is not looking for fakes and flakes. He is looking for conversion. Why? Paul did not let his circumstances dictate or determine his faith. He knew that Jesus was his rock and that is the foundation that he stood on. Jesus is bigger than all of Paul’s circumstances. Upon conversion, it is then time for the person to learn how to become a passionate, devoted disciple of Jesus.
It is interesting that Paul chooses Isaiah as his text to preach from. Paul doesn’t start off with an easy message or an easy Scripture. He starts off with Scripture that will do one of two things. It will either drive you to Christ or it will push you away from Christ. It did exactly what it was intended to do. Those that were in Paul’s house that day were divided. The ones who did not like the message left. That is fine. Because Paul was there for two years, the ones that left likely made room for others who got saved and became discipled by Paul.
Look at these verses from Isaiah. Take into context our culture.
Gun control is not about guns – crazy, mentally ill, people need Jesus
Health care mandates to pay for abortions – people need Jesus
Gay marriage – people need Jesus
Sex trafficking – people need Jesus
It is going to take men.
Men who are not going to take this crap and stand on the rock of Jesus and be intentional about communicating the gospel to people. Men who are going to fight for their families and teach them the ways of Jesus. A husband and daddy will not be able to effectively communicate the gospel to his family if he has not first been wrecked by the gospel.
Men have to stop seeing women as the objects of their lust filled hearts. They have to stop buying and looking at porn and stop engaging with prostitutes.
This is a result of people making decisions whose hearts have never been changed by Jesus. Could it be that God is allowing this to happen to get the church to wake up? Could it be that God wants the men in the church to actually Man Up?
Pick up your gear and get in the game.
Put on your cup and your big boy pants because there will be those who take cheap shots at you.
Pick up your weapons and get in the fight.
Fight for your own soul.