12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (ESV)
I don’t understand the kind of man that walks into jail. I understand the man that is dragged in.
I can fully understand walking into danger, or peril, or even the possibility of prison, but to walk into, basically, a guaranteed arrest is different. I would likely justify avoiding that place, particularly after friends started begging…surely at least one of them has heard from God. But Paul is truly content in every situation. Jail, free, home, homeless, safe, beaten, etc… it’s all the same with him. His treasure is truly unseen; the intimate friendship of jesus Christ. What kind of depth does your relationship with God have to be to trump EVERY situation? and how do you get there?
It’s an incredible level of assurance. Not assurance in salvation, as we now seem to be challenged to obtain and retain, but an assurance that Jesus was enough. Enough no matter the circumstances. Enough no matter the rejections. Enough no matter the discomfort. Enough no matter the pain.
We see in Paul’s words a clear dedication, a sure faith, an over-arching satisfaction. He had truly “lost his life”, and it certainly seems he had then “found it”. He feared no fire for his heart was already burning in him with love for Jesus Christ. he cringed at no wave for he had already been baptized and covered with the weight of death and emerged a new man, old things gone, everything new. No chains could intimidate him for he was already a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.
Paul seemed to believe that in the world he knew you couldn”t burn what has already been burned, and you can’t wash away what has already been washed, and you can’t arrest what has already been arrested. Jesus had taken everything there was to take of Paul, and all that was left was authentic, stripped, gritty, and real relationship…just as it was designed to be.