Storm



Acts 27:1-26
1And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius.
2And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
3The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.
4And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us.
5And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia.
6There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board.
7We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone.
8Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.
9Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,
10saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”
11But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.
12And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.
13Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore.
14But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land.
15And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along.
16Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat.
17After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.
18Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo.
19And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.
20When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
21Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.
22Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.
23For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,
24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
25So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
26But we must run aground on some island.”

Paul and his traveling companions are finally freed from the grasp of the Jews and set sail for Rome. Now the problem is that they are sailing in the wrong direction at the wrong time of the year. The weather is not going to act in their favor. Paul even warns the sailors that this might be a bad idea; and this isn’t a God-given prophecy. It’s just common sense. But the sailors’ greed and arrogance puts them in the water anyway and off they go. A huge storm blows in and disaster follows. I always smile when someone gets in an “I told you so” and that’s just what Paul says when things start to go badly. “Men, you should have listened to me” are the words he gets to speak. Of course by that time it’s too late and they are in the heart of the storm. Even in this time God comes to Paul and promises him that none will lose their lives, only the ship will go down. God’s plan for Paul to stand before Caesar stands.

There really aren’t any big theological take home points for me here today. This is one of those times when the Bible reads like a well written novel. The story moves forward with precise detail, as was Luke’s trademark. We ride along with Paul in that boat and watch as the sailors struggle to keep the boat afloat. And clearly Luke is right there in the boat too because he changes voices, now using the “we” pronoun. He was there for all of these events as an eyewitness. What a privilege, to be Paul’s biographer! We are quickly drawing to the close of Acts and story will reach a crescendo during our next installment.

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