Our passage today is Acts 20:13-38.
I love this section of Scripture; there are great theological truths to be found here but for me, it’s a passage that speaks of the love that holds believers together in Christ. When I was first appointed as an elder at Eb in 1991, the pastor at the time, Dennis Graves, read this passage. He made the point that the Ephesian elders were crying and said that if you want to be an Elder, you will, like them, shed tears. I have thought about his words often in the years that have followed and I have become convinced that Dennis was right; I have wept many times.
This is a poignant meeting between Paul and the Elders of the Church in Ephesus. Paul is sometimes seen as a cold person but we can see that he was someone who was deeply loved by the people with whom he had served.
It’s funny that when you spend a lot of time with another person you tend to pick up little things that they say and do. Paul had spent so much time with Jesus that he started acting like him. Just as Jesus had set out for Jerusalem knowing it would mean the cross, so Paul was heading to Jerusalem know it would mean prison and possibly death. Perhaps if we spent more time with Jesus his character would be seen in us.
Paul knew that the Church faced danger as well. Evil people would come in and seek to destroy the Church. Paul’s instruction rings out today;
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
We face the same challenges, false teaching is always about, we must hold on to the word of his grace.
It must have been a moving sight to see these men kneeling on the beach, weeping as they prayed. They knew this would be their last meeting but in a way it wasn’t, the Ephesian elders would see Paul again in glory. God’s purpose for the Church is to present her as a bride to his son. One day all of the redeemed will be together, there will be no more tears, the Ephesian elders will be there with Paul. People we have known who have died and who’s hope was in Jesus will be there too and so will you if you are a follower of Jesus. There we will sing the new song; the song of the redeemed. To the one who has loved us and given his life that we might live.
All these once were sinners,
defiled in his sight,
now arrayed in pure garments
in praise they unite:
Unto him who hath loved us
and washed us from sin,
unto him be the glory forever. Amen. (With Harps and with Vials – Arthur T Pierson)