Acts 27:13-26: Who’s in charge around here?

“13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. 14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the ‘North-Easter’, swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, 17 so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sand-bars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor[a] and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.  21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: ‘Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.’” NIV UK

‘God tells the man who cares.’ A. W. Tozer.

‘Who’s in charge around here?’ In this section, it looks and sounds like Paul is. It’s not the centurion or any of the ship’s officers who speak the authoritative word; it’s the apostle. He puts the trumpet to his lips and sounds the clearest note.The man or woman who walks with God is more likely to understand the times, to know what is going on, than anyone else. While , and fears the storm, the Christian can stand firm and stable on the rocking deck and speak from God. Faith believes what God says (25).

‘How calm faith makes us! We can sleep soundly amid the roar of the storm, and dream of angels when our hearts are stayed on God. His messengers can cleave their way through the murkiest skies and most drenching storms, to succour those who need help.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.501.

Tom Wright makes the point that there is an implied contrast with Jonah, who had to be thrown overboard with the rest of the cargo because he was running away from God. On the other hand, Paul, like a group of disciples earlier, found himself in this boat because he was following Jesus (Matthew 8: 18; 23; Acts 27:24). He was obedient.

Listen to Paul’s words in (23): ‘’…the God whose I am and whom I serve…’’ This is true of every Christian. We belong to God twice – by creation and redemption. By virtue of belonging to Him, we should serve Him. It is our duty as well as our joy.  Paul’s vision is the turning point in this incredibly vivid description of a storm at sea. Up to this point, everything is dark (20), but from now on a light shines, but as Tom Wright says, it’s only visible to the eye of faith. He also goes on to say this in his commentary on ‘Acts, part two’, p.230:  ‘’There are many Christians who have been taught that once they have faith everything ought to flow smoothly. Acts replies: you have not yet considered what it means to take up the cross. If the gospel of Jesus the crucified and risen Messiah means anything at all, it means that those who carry it will have it branded into their own souls. The idea of the church as a little ship was probably not invented at this stage, but Luke was there already. The storms do not mean that the journey is futile. They merely mean that Jesus is claiming the world as his own, and that the powers of the world will do their best to resist. Those who are caught up in the middle of it all must recognise the cross for what it is, and claim the victory already won in the unique events of Calvary. ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must appear before Caesar.’ ‘’

PRAYER: I pray dear Lord that I will walk so closely with you that I can speak an authoritative word, and be a calming presence amidst the fierce storms that rage.