What kind of man would say something like this:
“For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13 ESV)
Many people would probably reply that for a man to state such a thing indicates lunacy. They might even ask, “Who would really be willing to be imprisoned or even die for a simple religious cause?” Or, “One would be crazy to go to prison when it could probably be avoided.”
Nevertheless, Paul was not crazy although he made the statement above. He understood a great and true principle that many people in this world never learn: that having a relationship with Jesus is greater than anything this world has to offer. You see, Paul understood the depth of his sin; he knew that he had sinned against a holy and sovereign God and not only deserved to die, but he deserved to be eternally separated from God by experiencing Hell. Not only had Paul broken God’s laws, but he had actively persecuted his church, condemning Christians to death. However, while God’s judgment and wrath is what Paul deserved, our sovereign God had instead chosen to send His Son Jesus to redeem Paul from the curse of death and legalism and give him new life. Paul’s sins had been forgiven and he was now free, and he became the greatest voice for the cause of Christ in the history of the church. Therefore, without any fear of Hell or remorse of sin, knowing that he was in right standing with God, Paul could then say, “For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus,” in all honesty because he knew that nothing, not even prison or death could take away the joy of knowing Jesus and abiding in His grace and mercy.
It was with this understanding that he was able to write the following to encourage the church at Rome:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:35-39 ESV)
Today, may I be reminded of my own sin before God while also seeing His great grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Knowing that I have been forgiven of much, may I be empowered to be an agent of God’s grace among my friends and family, sharing with them that if you are in Christ, you can never be separated from the love of God.
May I become the kind of man that could say if necessary, “For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die…for the name of the Lord Jesus.”