And saw him saying to me, Make haste, and get you quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive your testimony concerning me.…
It is possible to take different views of the drift and the intended tenor of this passage. The language of Saul (which Paul now quotes), as found in vers. 19, 20, will be very far from powerless, whether read as a view humbly offered in harmony with the command just laid upon him, or as perhaps is the more probable, in deprecation of it. The passage, however, reminds us, amid high associations of great truths, of solemn far-reaching principles in human life. The retribution which it enwraps is not that of the severity of judgment to the sinner, but of the inevitableness of that cause and effect which speak a Creator-God of infinite wisdom, and a creature-man of reason, of moral capabilities, and of a certain freedom of action, that lies at the root of moral responsibility and final accountability. Notice, then -
I. A CAREER OF UNTOLD POSSIBILITIES OF USEFULNESS AND HONOR IN THE MOTHER CITY JERUSALEM CUT SHOUT FOR PAUL.
1. We could imagine reasons why Paul would have felt his highest ambition fired by testifying, working, suffering, and dying for Jesus in Jerusalem, as;
(1) The mother city of the land and of God's favored people, renowned with ancient and special renown,
(2) The place at the very heart of Jewish life, where he would have longed to recant most publicly his one-time errors of creed, and retrieve whatever it were possible to retrieve of the effects of those errors. This would have been of what was most noble among the characteristics of Paul.
(3) The place which held the same relation to the religious world that Rome did to the heathen world.
(4) The place where the Master bore the grandest testimony of all his course, and suffered and died.
2. It needs little imagination to see that, let alone any sense of a noble ambition, Paul would feel that it would be one of the grandest opportunities of usefulness, at the very center of typical and peculiar risk and danger. From all this Paul is interdicted by a voice of sovereign authority, and on the plain ground of his own past of error.
II. A REMEDY IN CHRIST AGAINST ABJECT HOPELESSNESS, AGAINST SETTLED DESPAIR, AGAINST REMORSEFUL THROWING UP OF ENDEAVOR, IN THE PRESENCE OF THE RETRIBUTIVE ASPECTS OF HUMAN LIFE. The veto of Jesus Christ, spoken with authority to Paul, is nothing else than linked with a summons to other work and another sphere, that may turn into all equal usefulness and probably usefulness far greater. Notice the method of that summons.
1. Though to state the ground of it might be pain and might give pain, it is not wrapt in vague mystery and unsatisfying innuendo. It is, on the other hand, a grand instance of "Faithful are the wounds of a friend."
2. The summons exhibits a very distinct and emphatic value set upon the life and the useful employment of the servant somewhere or other. Twice, nay, thrice repeated is the direction to depart with "haste," "quickly," and unquestioningly. Men may depart like Jonah. But also they may depart for
(1) Christ's own command, announced in the individual conscience or by the living Spirit; and
(2) for greater toil and exposure, instead of for ease and hiding from work.
3. The summons announces, by a most gracious anticipation, an highly important substitute career. The man who has incapacitated himself by follies, by errors, even by sins, for some of the noblest of Christian service shall still not be cast away as useless. He is still good to do something; yes, to do much. The Master does not refuse the love or the service of the fallen, when they return, nor does he consent to treat with them only through others. First he saves them and protects them, and suggests his care and love of them. Then he gives them their work, though "far hence." And lastly, he does not withhold from their car to hear his own voice, "2' will send thee." What trust, what love, what forgivingness, and what streams of hope Jesus has to give - and gives to his own! - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.