Paul Goes to Jerusalem

from the Acts of the Apostles reading plan

Acts 21:1-36, Joel 2:28-29, John 19:13-16

BY Andrea Lucado

Text: Acts 21:1-36, Joel 2:28-29, John 19:13-16

You know those movies with the sad endings you watch again and again? You know how they end, but something in you hopes beyond hope that somehow the ending will be different this time. The guy and the girl will get together. The epic battle scene will end in the good guy’s favor. But it never happens, does it? Because the ending has already been written.

This is how I feel when I enter the final chapters of Acts. I know Paul’s imprisonment is coming, but I want it to end differently this time. I want Paul to be free to bring the gospel everywhere and to everyone. When I read Acts 21, I don’t want that fateful day in the temple to come—the day that changed Paul’s course forever. For the remainder of the book, our friend is either in prison, en route to prison, or under house arrest. This is the last we see of Paul as a free man.

Who hasn’t experienced a change of course? There we are, trucking along, doing fine and—BOOM—something happens that changes our direction. Something messes with the end of the story we’d planned for ourselves—an unexpected, and often unwanted, shift.

When this happens to me, I look at God with shrugged shoulders. “What are You doing?” I ask. “Why is this happening? What now?”

I’m not often given specific answers to these questions, but these shifts always remind me that God is the author of my story, not me. When I surrendered my life to Christ, I gave up ownership of myself (Galatians 2:19-20). I no longer call the shots, and a change of course is a good, though hard, reminder of this critical part of the Christian life.

While we can’t predict how or when these shifts in our stories will occur, we can expect them. Paul did. When his friends warn him about his potential fate in Jerusalem, he asks,

“What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

-Acts 21:13

Knowing full well the danger he faced, Paul continued the ministry he was called to. He didn’t allow the unknown to paralyze him. He had been transformed on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-25), filled with the Spirit, and now he lived as though his life were not his own.

As a Christ follower, I want to do just that: follow Christ. I want to live life with open hands, being prepared and ready for what God has in store, rather than resistant to it. Under God’s care, we may not always know what’s coming next, but we can trust Him, come what may.

Some of the stories in our lives will have sad endings we’d like to change. But the Story of our lives? We know how it ends. We’ve been promised the best ending imaginable. Our good and faithful God will prevail, and we will get spend eternity with Him.

In the meantime, let’s trust God with the other stories, the changes of course—no matter how trying, no matter how unexpected. Knowing that He is God and He is good, let us say with confidence, “The Lord’s will be done!” (Acts 21:14).


Post Comments (51)

51 thoughts on "Paul Goes to Jerusalem"

  1. ed sheeran songs list says:

    It’s always good to see it from a different perspective My experience confirms that. I have to think about it some more. Can you expand on this?

  2. Stephanie says:

    I said a prayer for you today untidy. God loves you so much. You are his daughter. I pray that He will bless you, that His Spirit will fill you with all peace and joy and comfort in the midst of this crazy life.

  3. Untidy says:

    My life is complex just now, and I’m tired. It was hard reading today’s thoughts, but they pointed me back to God being in control and trusting him, even when I really feel like giving up. I don’t feel much better, but I appreciate not being given platitudes.

  4. Maritza says:


  5. Nikravesous says:

    This is a poignant lesson for this season in my life. I am stuck between feeling called to go to grad school and wanting to start a family, between staying at my job with many opportunities to advance and moving somewhere that we could afford for me to stay home when kids do come. God is opening some doors and not others, not the ones I was prepared for. I am always antsy to KNOW WHAT’S NEXT and figure out how to PREPARE but I need to sit back, take a deep breath, and say “God’s will be done!” I’ll walk through the doors that are open and if it is not His will, He will shut them.

  6. Dancee says:

    This spoke right to me. As a recent college graduate I can not seem to find a job. Anxiety overwhelms me both ways – to find that job and to not find that job. My husband and I have had a specific plan for years to pay off our student loans, but with me not having a job it is changing our course dramatically. Delaying the time to have kids and so on. I hold tight to the truth that God is the Author of my story and His plans are more than I could ever imagine. So, I will step off the throne and let God take over. I will stop resisting anxiety, because I know that He is in control. He is for me.

    1. DebbieinAZ says:

      Praying for God to supply the perfect job for you in this season of your life. Also, that you will have patience and peace in the waiting, and He will use this time for His purposes. Be blessed sister.

  7. Catherine says:

    I love that God is the author of my story! Let the adventures continue!

  8. Cali says:

    This came at the perfect timing. I was literally wondering why I had to be the one who struggles with anxiety, as if I’m the only one. We don’t always know God’s plan, I pray to remember that God’s Will be done, and to trust in Him. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories.

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