I. THIS HAD TO BE ONE OF THE DARKEST HOURS IN PAUL'S LIFE.
A. His life long ambition to preach the gospel to the Jews has ended in utter chaos.
1. He did not convince his former cohorts to become believers as he had hoped and was certain that he could do.
2. Contrariwise they are so incensed against Paul that 40 of them are taking an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him.
3. For the second time in as many days the chief captain of the Roman guard had to send troops in to rescue Paul from being torn apart by the mob.
B. The future is very uncertain at this point.
1. He is spending his second night incarcerated in the Antonio fortress.
2. What will happen next is anybody's guess.
C. He is no doubt discouraged, and depressed.
1. He is probably feeling like a great failure.
2. He is probably kicking himself for mentioning the fact that he was called to go to the Gentiles, for this brought an end to his opportunity to witness.
3. He probably felt that his ministry was all washed up, he had failed miserably in his greatest goal for the ministry and that was to bring his fellow Jews to the saving knowledge of Jesus.
4. He had such an intense desire to see the Jews saved that if it could help he would even be willing to be accursed from God.
II. THE WORDS OF JESUS TO PAUL.
A. "Be of good cheer."
1. This means that Paul was indeed down in spirit.
2. Jesus often spoke words of encouragement saying "Be of good cheer."
a. To the man sick of the palsy brought to Jesus by his friends who had to remove the roof to let him down in front of Jesus He said, "Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven."
b. To the frightened disciples when He came walking to them on the water and they thought they were seeing a ghost, "Be of good cheer, it is I."
c. Jesus said to His disciples, "In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
B. "For as you have testified of Me in Jerusalem."
1. Jesus acknowledged that Paul had testified of Him in Jerusalem.
a. We might be prone to say, "Yes but not very successfully, he stirred up the crowd to an angered frenzy on both occasions.
b. The response to his testimony has nothing to do with the Lord's acknowledgement of Paul's testimony.
c. Sometimes we are discouraged because our testimony for Jesus only brings mocking and derision, we thus feel like a total failure.
d. We will be rewarded for our faithfulness to testify for Jesus, not for how many responded, nor how they responded to our witness. They had responded to Paul's testimony in a very negative way, yet the Lord is acknowledging his witness.
e. Paul had written to the Corinthians, "Your labor for the Lord is not in vain."
2. We need to remember that we are not as commissioned salesmen. We get paid for presenting the merchandise, not for how many units we sell.
3. One man may witness to 100 people and they all receive Jesus as Savior.
4. Another may witness to 100 people and none receive Christ. When they stand before the Lord to receive their reward for their service, they will both receive the same reward.
5. I am not responsible to bring men to Jesus Christ, just to bring Jesus Christ to men.
III. "SO MUST YOU ALSO BEAR WITNESS AT ROME."
A. In effect Jesus is saying your ministry is not over, you still have to take the gospel to Rome.
1. Earlier Paul had expressed a desire to go to Rome. Before he had ever begun this ill fated trip to Jerusalem he had announced his intentions to visit the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. then he said, "And I must also see Rome."
2. Jesus is confirming here that Paul will indeed see Rome, and there bear witness of Him.
B. It will yet be more than two years before Paul will get to Rome, the Lord often begins to plant his will upon our hearts long before it is His perfect timing to bring it about.
1. Having made known to Paul the fact that he is to be a witness in Rome, no matter how dark the days may appear to be, Paul can still be certain that he will make it to Rome, and there be a witness.
2. His journey to Rome was under extremely dire circumstances, he was taken there as a prisoner. The captain on the ship upon which he was traveling made a very foolish mistake to try to set sail in the late fall and beat the winter storms.
3. They were however caught in a very severe storm, for fourteen days then did not see the sun and were driven by the winds and tides They finally had all despaired of their lives.
4. It was then that Paul stood up and said to the passengers and crew, "Be of good cheer, for there will be no loss of life, only the ship will be destroyed. For last night the angel of God stood by me, whose I am and who I serve, and he told me I must see Caesar, therefore be of good cheer for I believe God."
C. Many have been the times when a person has been led to believe that his ministry is over then God comes along and recommissions him again.
2. Peter after his denial of Jesus probably felt that Jesus would never trust him again.
IV. THE LORD STOOD BY HIM:
A. Not to scold him.
1. Paul, what's wrong with you, why wouldn't you have better sense than to mention your being called to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
2. So often when we have failed, we are expecting Jesus to scold us.
B. Not to say, "I told you so."
1. Earlier when Paul had been to Jerusalem, the Lord had told him to get out quickly for they would not receive his testimony, and Paul argued with the Lord, for he was sure that they would listen to him.
C. To comfort him, "Cheer up Paul."
D. To acknowledge his work for Him. "As you have testified of Me in Jerusalem."
E. To give him a new commission. "So must you witness of Me in Rome."