And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:…
I. IN MEETING AND PASSING BY "THINGS THAT HINDER."
1. At Miletus the farewell to the elders. The purpose of a great love to be no hindrance in Christ's work. Separations incidental to service.
2. At Tyre certain disciples who told him "by the Spirit" that he should not go up to Jerusalem. Contradictory voices and perplexities. The ultimate decision is thrown on a man's own responsibility.
3. At Caesarea "Agabus took Paul's girdle," etc. A Divine prophecy of danger is to be of less force than a Divine inspiration of duty. The bondage of the Spirit in the cause of right mightier than the bonds of men.
4. Intense emotion to be no restraint in the activities of service — "What mean ye to weep and break mine heart?" Conscience is to be supreme over feeling. Paul a magnificent example to us in the journey of life. A man going straight on under the overmastering impulse of the right.
II. IN UNCERTAINTY OF THE FUTURE. "Not knowing," etc. The next step is in shadow. Tomorrow is behind the veil.
III. IN KNOWLEDGE OF THE FUTURE. These are not contradictory; we know not and yet we know. He who takes service with Christ may see in the light cast on life by His prophetic words, outlines of the narrow way. Like mountains rising through the mist, he can see from afar the heights he has to climb. "Bonds and afflictions abide with me." Whatever there is not, there will be a fellowship of suffering with the Master; and the closer the companionship, the more severe the suffering may be.
IV. UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF A CONTROLLING PRINCIPLE.
1. Following the spiritual lead the Christian is able to deal with unexpected events. New circumstances come with the new hours; they master the ordinary man, as the drift and the gale have their way with the rudderless ship. The man under spiritual subjection has sovereignty over the varying events of life, and uses them as helps to the right course.
2. In this experience faith must follow where reason can but dimly see. The Spirit of God is an all-sufficient guide to the spiritual man.
3. In this experience the Right will become clearer in the progressive Light. Nor will the right be determined by the removal of difficulties; "bonds and afflictions" may come, but in them and with them the inner peace.
4. The consistency of Paul's course. This is the outcome of the initial act (Acts 9:6).
5. The bondage of the Spirit the truest liberty. Contrast with this Divine power the forces under which men put themselves in subjection — the money power, the world power, the self power. These promise liberty. Service on the one side leads to lordship; on the other, imaginary freedom conducts to bonds and affliction unto death.
V. AS CHARACTERISED BY A GRAND STABILITY. "None of these things move me." It is the strong motive power that leads right on through waves and storms. Then the glorious end — "that I may finish my course with joy." Every man's course will finish, but will he finish it? Under subjection to death or triumphing over it?
(W. K. Lea.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: